“It’s almost been 10 years since 17-year-old Blake Chappell disappeared after the East Coweta High School homecoming dance, just to be discovered dead months later. The still-unsolved case proceeds to frustrate investigators. According to his friends and family, Chappell was the sort of kid who was friends.
Blake Was A Funny Guy
“He was joyful. He was one of the funniest people I knew,” said Max Gibbs, Blake’s childhood friend. “If you were down in a terrible mood, he would make you laugh somehow. He was always just right there,” Gibbs said. Melissa Becker, Blake’s mum, also holds tight to the memories of her little boy. “He always looked at the best in people,” she said. “He loved people. His friends were so very important to him. I don’t guess he ever had a foe in his life.”
And that, Becker said, is one of the several reasons she’s still amazed by the fact that someone would murder her son in cold blood. She said she remembers well the night of October 15, 2011. She sent her baby off to homecoming with a smile. They’d scheduled for Blake to spend the night at his friend Austin’s home. After the dance, Blake called from Austin’s as planned. “He called and he said, ‘mom, I had so much fun, it was the best day of my life, I got to hang out with my friends and dance,'” Becker recalled of the conversation. But what occurred after that phone call, is a mystery that’s still haunting. Blake was noticed walking to his girlfriend’s home. And not long after, leaving to walk back to his friend’s.
But Blake never made it.
“Around 11 a.m. the friend that he stayed the night with calls me and says Blake’s missing, and I couldn’t understand,” Becker recalled. “I’m like, ‘what do you mean Blake’s missing? He stayed the night at your home.’ Well, he went to his girlfriend’s and he never came back.”
The search lasted two painful months. “We didn’t know where he was,” Gibbs said, voice breaking as he looked back on that day. “We began calling him. And nobody could get in touch.” It looked like Blake had simply disappeared. “It’s like he just disappeared off the face of the earth,” Becker said.
Then in December 2011, two months after Becker reported her son missing, she got the call she was dreading. Her little boy had been discovered dead in a creek in East Newnan, near the Summer Grove neighborhood. He’d been shot and left in just his underwear. “It’s inexpressible,” Becker said through tears. “I mean, relive that day every day. My world stopped that day. And I was just in such terror, I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t probably be him. I still had hope that he was going to walk down that driveway.”
Newnan Police have held a maximum of the case details under tight wraps. The department refuted 11Alive’s plea for the medical report, and wouldn’t substantiate what, if any forensic proof was obtained at the scene.
“As suspects are developed, a lot of elements would only be known by those people, so we can’t release too much,” said Lieutenant Chris Robinson, who took over the case for Newnan PD in 2019. Robinson did substantiate that through the course of their inquiry, it was obvious Blake’s death was a homicide. But in the almost 10 years since it occurred, they’ve never made an arrest.
“Everything we’ve received has been run down and vetted and ruled out at this point,” he said. “Without community assistance and people who know something coming ahead, it just makes it near unthinkable to get anywhere right now.” Blake’s phone, wallet, and clothes were never discovered.
Becker frequently wonders if he was abducted. Police said they can’t verify if he was murdered the night he went missing, or if his corpse was dumped in the creek later. “I don’t know how long he was in that creek,” Lt. Robinson said. “From the time he went missing to the time, he was discovered made the physical evidence a little more difficult.”
Becker said from the time her son first went missing, she’d asked police frequently to triangulate his phone. The final text Blake ever sent that night was to his girlfriend after he’d left her home, telling her an officer had just pulled him over to question him about where he was headed. “I want to know if they ever triangulated his cell phone,” Becker said. “I want to know if they really looked at all the GPS on the police cars that could have made contact with him for that text.”
11Alive reporter Savannah Levins brought those questions to Newnan PD. “They have pulled some phone records,” Lt. Robinson said. “Not certainly triangulated, but we pulled some phone records. But the area’s pretty broad on that.”
He also said they were never able to substantiate whether any of their officers saw or stopped Blake that night. “We’re still sort of hazy as to what that interaction was,” he said. “But it didn’t seem that our agency had contact with him.”
Investigators still don’t know who would have, could have, done this. But they’re hoping anyone with data will come forward.
“Somebody knows something,” Robinson said. “Come to us, we need the information. We want to solve this.”
Nearly a decade later, the plea for answers and justice continues.
“I’ve had to come to terms with probably never knowing who did this to him and I’ve had to forgive this imaginary person,” Becker said through tears.
“I just want to realize why? Just allow us to have some peace. He was just an innocent child. He did nothing wrong.”
There is a $20,000 prize for data leading to an arrest in Blake’s case. Callers can leave tips for the Newnan Police at (770) 254-2355 or Crimestoppers of Greater Atlanta. Those who give tips can remain anonymous.”