Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: A Murder in Thunderbolt’ examines the 2013 slayings of Forrest Ison and Alice Stevens in Savannah, Georgia. The official synopsis of the episode lays down the outline of the case flawlessly, reading: “A couple is found shot down in front of their home in the quiet suburb of Thunderbolt. The entire community hears the barrage of gunfire. As police sift through the evidence, they must determine if one of the neighbors is a witness or the killer.” So now, if you’re here wondering all the details of what transpired, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Forrest Ison and Alice Stevens Die?
Back in the early 2010s, Forrest Chance Ison, 27, having graduated from the G.T.C.C. culinary school, was an executive chef at the Brasserie 529 Restaurant, whereas Alice Pendleton Stevens, 24, his girlfriend, was a hostess/waitress there. According to their friends and family, the two dreamt of one day opening up a bakery together. But unfortunately, it remained just that – a dream. After all, on November 3, 2013, as the couple was returning home, to 3134 Robertson Avenue, Thunderbolt, from a night out in Savannah, they were brutally gunned down – found shot n the staircase to their door.
When emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the crime, they discovered that the couple had not just been shot, they had been executed. And while Forrest had already passed away due to the extent of his injuries, Alice died in the early hours of November 4, on the way to the hospital. After a thorough examination, a doctor with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab revealed that both Forrest and Alice were shot once in the chin and once in the back of the head with a .22-caliber and a .45-caliber weapon. Forrest, though, was shot at least three or four times in total.
According to the doctor, the couple was first shot at near-point-blank range before their assailant/s likely used their foot to push them into the ground to fire at their heads.
Who Killed Forrest Ison and Alice Stevens?
After months of investigations and looking into any and every possible suspect, the authorities finally came to the conclusion that the slayings of Forrest Ison and Alice Stevens were the result of an armed robbery gone wrong. And then, they found Nathaniel Wilkins, Michael Jones, and Tracey Wilkins Burgess. Nathaniel, or Nate, had worked for Forrest at his restaurant downtown but was fired for burning food and overall poor performance. So, part of the motive for the robbery and subsequent murders was the grudge that he held.
Plus, the fact that Michael Jones bragged about the killings to more than half-a-dozen friends and colleagues didn’t help them either. Tracey, Nate’s sister and Michael’s girlfriend at the time, on the other hand, agreed to turn into the State’s key witness for a lesser charge and reduced sentence after she was indicted for murder in January of 2016. She then admitted that Nate and Michael were the ones who pulled the trigger on Forrest and Alice while she just played the role of a getaway driver during the botched armed robbery.
According to Tracey, the aim was to rob, not harm, but that’s not how it went. And authorities don’t deem this statement to be credible either as the three of them fled the scene without even taking anything after ambushing Forrest and Alice. Therefore, in the end, they were all convicted in connection to the case. In 2016, Michael Jones was found guilty of malice murder and sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. And in April 2018, while Tracey was sentenced to 10 years on a conspiracy charge, Nathaniel Wilkins was convicted of two counts of malice murder.
Read More: Where Is Nathaniel Wilkins Now?