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Police say suspect in stabbing left handwritten apology behind

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Duluth man left a handwritten note after fatally stabbing his neighbor, apologizing for hurting the woman and blaming drugs for his actions, a police detective testified Wednesday.

The folded note, allegedly signed by 33-year-old Alvenio "Johnny" Culpepper and left on his bed, said "read me" on the outside. On the inside Culpepper wrote "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt anybody. The drugs got the best of me," testified Detective G. Lorenzo of the Gwinnett County Police Department during a probable cause hearing.

In the brief message, Culpepper also asked authorities to "please tell my kids about the good things I've done," Lorenzo said.

Culpepper is accused of stabbing his neighbor, 64-year-old Jenny Rider Neville, during a brief scuffle Sept. 11 in her duplex off Davenport Road in Duluth. Neville lived alone in an apartment above Culpepper, having recently retired from a long career at the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Friends said she was also a breast cancer survivor.

Culpepper's 13-year-old son, Alvenio Culpepper Jr., was downstairs when the stabbing occurred, Lorenzo said. The boy had come to live with his father only a few weeks prior to the stabbing because Culpepper and his child's mother agreed he needed a "good male role model," Lorenzo said.

The boy told police he had been playing a video game with Culpepper when his father decided to order a pizza. Culpepper went upstairs to use Neville's phone because he didn't have phone service in his apartment, according to the boy's statement to police.

About 15 minutes later, when the pizza delivery man still had not arrived, Culpepper reportedly went back upstairs to call the restaurant.

"Junior heard a ruckus, a thump and a scream," Lorenzo said. "He didn't pay much attention. He said when his dad came back downstairs he seemed to be in a bit of a hurry."

Culpepper had Neville's car keys in his hand, and told his son that Neville was letting him borrow the vehicle to pick up the pizza, Lorenzo said. Culpepper apparently left in the Toyota Camry and never returned.

The boy went to bed that night, then woke the next day and took the bus to school. It wasn't until that afternoon, when Culpepper's boss at a local deli came over to find out why Culpepper wasn't at work, that the boy recounted what had happened.

The boss became concerned and took the 13-year-old to the Duluth Police Department, Lorenzo said. Officers then returned to the duplex to check on Neville's welfare. They found her partially clothed body on the living room couch, her face and nude lower body covered with two towels, Lorenzo said.

Neville had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and torso.

Police searched Culpepper's apartment and collected two T-shirts and a pair of socks stained with blood for testing. A knife believed to be the murder weapon was also found beneath Neville's doormat, Lorenzo said.

Culpepper was arrested four days later in Easton, Pa., where he had reportedly been staying with his brother. He has since been extradited back to Gwinnett to face a felony murder charge.

When questioned by police in Pennsylvania, Culpepper claimed he had gone to the upstairs apartment along with several other people to rob Neville. He said Neville ended up being stabbed by someone else in the group.

Later, Culpepper changed his story and told investigators he acted alone, Lorenzo said.

Culpepper claimed he was on a drug-induced high when he went to Neville's apartment to get more money for drugs. A scuffle ensued, and he stabbed her, Lorenzo said.

Police said there is no indication that there had been animosity between Neville and Culpepper prior to the slaying. Neighbors said Neville frequently let Culpepper use her telephone.

Culpepper even told his boss that Neville was a "nice lady," Lorenzo said.

A Gwinnett County magistrate judge found enough evidence to bind over the case against Culpepper to Superior Court for indictment. Culpepper is being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail.