- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The following night Sherrod told Griffin about the gun, completing the circle of the women in his life who knew. Perhaps he had hoped one of them would intervene. Perhaps not. In any case, he told none of his male friends. 'After he was hospitalized in the fall," says Reese, "Anthony said, 'Man, I'm glad they took the .38 away from me, because I was hearing voices. I could have shot myself without even knowing what I was doing.' "
On April 11, in a sudden burst of energy, Sherrod started packing his belongings. Then, just as suddenly, he lay down on his bed and went to sleep. "His heart had started hurting him again," says Griffin, "the way it had before he had his anxiety attack in November. His heart would pound in his chest so hard he couldn't sleep."
The next morning, Sherrod mailed $20 to a friend, the balance of a $200 loan. In addition to sending the money, he asked the friend to tell Johnnie Mae he was sorry he was "such a flop." Sherrod called his mother that afternoon. Recalls Johnnie Mae, "He said, 'Say a prayer for me.' I told him I would, but that he also had to say a prayer for himself, too."
At about 12:30 on Friday morning, the operator called Johnnie Mae, asking permission to charge a long-distance call to her number that was being placed by Anthony Sherrod to another number. "I thought that was unusual," she says, "but I was mopping the floor, so I didn't worry about it."
Sherrod was making what would be his final phone call to Griffin, who was nearly asleep at her home in Millen when the phone rang. She repeatedly asked Sherrod where he was, but he would say only that he was somewhere in Augusta, a two-hour drive from Atlanta but only an hour from Millen. After they had talked awhile, Griffin became so sure that Sherrod was trying to say goodbye that she asked him if he was trying to break up with her. He said he wasn't. "I'm about to go, Crystal," said Sherrod. "It's getting cold out here."
"For some reason I felt I had to keep him on the phone," she says. "Finally, he told me he was going to go home, get some rest, and in the morning he would see his doctor. He made me promise to call him Friday afternoon. I asked him if he would tell me what had been bothering him, but he said, 'No, I've taken care of that.' When he hung up, I remember thinking, This wasn't long enough."
Johnson returned home from work that night around 1:30 a.m. She waited up for him until 4:30 before going to sleep. At about 6:30, she recalls, she heard a car pull into the driveway and the car door slam. "I thought he had come in," says Johnson. "But June came into my room and asked where Anthony was. She said he wasn't in the house."
Troy Edwards, another of Sherrod's cousins, who had moved from Millen to Atlanta, may have been the first person to see the body as he and his wife drove to work on Friday morning along Rock Hill Drive, a wooded back road less than a mile from Sherrod's apartment.
Sherrod had reached the spot on foot, an abandoned driveway filled with old tires and discarded roofing material. Across the road, amid the fragrant honeysuckle and the tall Georgia pines, was a sign that read NO DUMPING, FINE $175.00, its rectangular metal face pitted with nine bullet holes. According to police, Sherrod's gun had been fired only once.
The funeral service was conducted in Millen four days later, at the Zion Baptist Church, where Sherrod had been an ordained junior deacon and had sung in the choir. "People ask us why he did it," says Johnson, "and we have no answers. For once, Anthony has all the answers."