Incident disturbs Realtors
Police investigate man's rape claim

LAWRENCEVILLE - Last Sunday was an idyllic day for a real estate open house. Sunshine. Cool breeze. Absolutely mild for January.

But what one female Realtor encountered was enough to evoke dark memories from a double-murder several years ago, officials said.

A man allegedly threatened a female RE/MAX agent who was showing a home in Lawrenceville's Whitehawk subdivision - located off Tab Road, near Interstate 85 - claiming he'd been jailed twice for "raping real estate agents" and warning her not to tell police, according to the company.

Realtors across Atlanta and North Georgia are circulating an e-mail that details the incident. The man allegedly stayed at the home for more than an hour. The Realtor was not physically harmed, but "was scared to death," the message claims.

According to the e-mail, the man identified himself as Jeffrey Shumate - a 31-year-old white man who wore a biker's jacket and drove an older, white Buick Skylark. Shumate's mug shot is attached to the e-mail.

The warning was also posted Wednesday as an "Agent Alert" on the Atlanta Board of Realtors' home page. Ditto for the Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors' Web site.

Gwinnett police spokesman Officer David Schiralli said police were actively investigating the case Wednesday night. Authorities are looking into Shumate's alleged involvement, he said.

Realtor Cleve Gaddis called 911 following the incident but did not file charges, Schiralli said.

Gaddis was not available for comment Wednesday, but his mother, Jean Gaddis - also a part of Gaddis Realtors - said the company plans to pursue further legal action against the suspect.

Jail records show Shumate has been booked once in Gwinnett County - a 2004 arrest for misdemeanor stalking.

Schiralli said Shumate's record indicates he has been arrested in counties neighboring Gwinnett, but he could not immediately comment on the previous charges.

Shumate could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His last address listed in jail records is 385 Northdale Road, Lawrenceville.

Gaddis said the incident conjures memories of two female Realtors murdered in Cobb County in November 2003. She said the incident has spooked many of Gaddis Realtors' employees.

The case has also been forwarded to the Victim Witness Program in the Gwinnett District Attorney's Office, Gaddis said.

Officials there could not be reached after business hours for comment Wednesday.

"It's amazing when you realize just how vulnerable we Realtors are," Gaddis said.