The Echols County Grand Jury indicted Cessor Mario Houston, Jr., 45, of Naylor on a Felony Murder charge, and numerous drug charges on August 1st, 2022, following an investigation into the October 2021 death of Echols County resident, Steven Johnson. Johnson was found deceased in his yard on the morning of October 23rd, 2021. The case was investigated as a suspected overdose. Sheriff Courson requested The Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in the investigation. An autopsy and toxicology testing was conducted on Johnson at the GBI Crime Lab. Results of those tests provided information to Agents and Investigators that led them to meetings with the District Attorney for the presentment of the case to the Grand Jury. It is alleged that Johnson purchased the drugs from Houston prior to his death. On the evening of October 23, 2021, Georgia State Patrol and Echols County Sheriff’s Office conducted a roadblock at the intersection of Bethel Church Road and J Frank Culpepper Road. A small silver car approached the roadblock, and a Trooper detected the odor of Marijuana coming from the vehicle and asked the occupants, Cessor Mario Houston and Lacey Gaines to step out. A subsequent search of the vehicle was conducted and located inside of a backpack were numerous illegal narcotics including a trafficking amount of fentanyl, methamphetamine, Morphine, prescription pills and Marijuana. On August 1st, 2022 Sheriff Courson and deputies apprehended Houston at a residence on Edgar Road in Echols County. Found on Houston at the time of his arrest was individual baggies of Cocaine and Methamphetamine packaged to sell. He was transported to Lowndes County Jail where he is being held on the Murder charge as well as additional charges of Possession of Cocaine with intent to Distribute, Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of TCH Oil and Possession of Drug Related Objects.
Sheriff Courson would like to thank the GBI and the Georgia State Patrol for their assistance in the culmination of events that led up to the arrest of Houston. Sheriff Courson states, “This Grand Jury indictment sends a strong message to those who want to sell illegal narcotics in Echols County that this will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Sheriff Courson encourages anyone with information of illegal narcotics being sold in the county to contact the Echols County Sheriff’s Office and callers may remain anonymous.