Victim: Deputy Loren Lily

A sheriff's deputy in Georgia was killed on his way to work in a traffic crash with two suspected illegal aliens

Perpetrator: Joel Perea

Crime Description:


A sheriff's deputy in Georgia was killed on his way to work this morning in a traffic crash with two suspected illegal aliens. Deputy Loren Lilly, who had been with the Cobb County Sheriff's Office for 18 years, was pronounced dead at the scene after his Honda Accord flipped several times after being struck by a Ford Taurus. "No one ever likes to roll up on an accident with anyone deceased on scene, or serious injuries," Marietta police officer Casey Camp told WXIA-TV. "Obviously, being in law enforcement, none of us wants to roll up and see one of our fellow officers or deputies on the scene as well." Witnesses say the driver and passenger in the Taurus ran from the scene. Police later arrested the two, 27-year-old Joel Perea, and 23-year-old Maurilio Herrera. Perea is charged with felony vehicular homicide, hit and run, failure to maintain a lane, and driving without a license. Herrera is charged with false report of a crime. They're being held at the Cobb County Jail, and police say federal immigration officials have placed a hold on both.

 Deputy Loren Lilly, Cobb County Sheriff's Office
Comrades honor friend for life

 MARIETTA - On Valentine's Day 2006, Cobb County Sheriff's Deputy Loren Lilly surprised his then-girlfriend, Jamie, with a kitchen full of red balloons. She was a longtime friend, and when they started dating just a few months earlier, he told his "honorary brother," Robert Willard she was the one. It was a softer side of the hard-nosed law enforcement officer few people saw. Lilly and Jamie married on Aug. 26, and his friends agree she was the love of his life and his "spiritual compass," who eventually led him to accept Christianity just three months before his Dec. 31 death.

 Jamie, along with Lilly's family and law enforcement officers from across metro Atlanta gathered at Roswell Street Baptist Church Thursday afternoon to say goodbye to the veteran lawman.

 Lilly, 41, was killed early Sunday morning at the intersection of Powder Springs Street and Baltimore Place after a car driven by Joel Camacho Perea, 27, of Marietta collided with his Honda Civic. Lilly was pronounced dead at the scene. For 17 years, the Birmingham, Ala., native served as a law enforcement officer in Cobb County and had just recently began working on a transfer from the jail to the Cobb County Fire Department, where best friend and fellow deputy Robert Willard said he "wanted to continue to make a difference." The two met at the police academy years ago, where Lilly trained after graduating from North Cobb High School in Kennesaw in 1989.

 Since, Lilly grew to become a member of Willard's family, attending every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner Willard shared with his parents after the two met in the police academy.
"I never saw anyone like him," Willard said at the service Thursday. "He would show up at your doorstep and say, 'Hey, I came to help.' If you were his friend, you were his friend for life."

Although he never had children of his own, Lilly was godfather to Willard's two children.
He kept up with Willard's father, the Rev. Sanford N. Willard Sr., with regular phone calls and adopted his love for Harley Davidson motorcycles after taking Willard's for a 30-minute ride around the neighborhood. "He despised Harleys until he got on one," Willard said. "One day I tossed him the keys and told him to take mine for a spin. He came back 30 minutes later with wind in his hair, tears in his eyes and bugs in his teeth and said, 'I gotta get me one of these.'"
The same was true of dancing until Willard and Lilly's then-girlfriend, Jamie, encouraged him to try it out. After the 41-year-old finally was coaxed into putting on a pair of cowboy boots, "it was all over," Willard said. Country line dancing was a regular outing for Lilly and Jamie once he tried on the "magic" boots. He took his love for dancing to his wedding on Aug. 26, 2006, where he wed his longtime friend, Jamie, who sat in the front row at Roswell Street Baptist Church during the service. Flanked by family and dressed in a somber black-and-white pinstripe skirt and jacket, the Rev. Tom Brown, who baptized Lilly at his home just six days before his wedding, described Jamie as "Loren's spiritual compass." In photos displayed throughout the church foyer, Jamie and Lilly's love for each other and for God was evident.
There was the letter Lilly had written to God found in the Bible he had with him in his car the night he died, thanking him for forgiving his sins and for bringing him Jamie. There were honeymoon pictures on the beach, Christmas photos where Lilly and Jamie shared a laugh in matching Santa hats, pictures that displayed Lilly's deep love for children. His law enforcement badges from Cobb County, his uniform from the Emerald Society and even his collection of beer steins were on display for friends and family to see at the church. "A lot of people knew a little bit about Loren; few people knew a lot; and Jesus and Jamie were the only people who knew everything," Willard said. "He was like a diamond; every time you looked at him you saw something different about him. He was just a multi-faceted person."

 As Willard, Willard's father, Brown and Dr. Ernest L. Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist, shared memories of Lilly, members of the Cobb County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard stood watch over his flag-draped casket. Several times throughout the ceremony, the guards changed, but each one stood as stone-faced as the next - at least until after the ceremony.
While Jamie, Willard and Lilly's family each shed several tears throughout the two-hour funeral, the men and women in blue also sobbed. Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren presented the flag to Jamie, and spoke softly to her for several minutes. Officers from every branch of law enforcement in Cobb, along with those from Sandy Springs, Cornelia, Alpharetta, Atlanta and several college campuses, formed lines inside and outside of the church for Lilly's family to walk through as they followed his casket. The usually stone-faced deputies, patrolman, investigators and corrections officers stood with tears streaming down their faces.
They had lost a comrade, a dedicated husband and lifelong friend. As the family passed through their makeshift lines, many saluted what they called "a fallen hero."

"He became one of our family, and I thank God for that," the Rev. Sanford N. Willard Sr. said. "I'm celebrating the hardest day of my life, and I'm celebrating it because I know where he is."
Brown, who watched a movie with Lilly, his wife and Jamie the Friday before his death, spoke just before Taps played on the trumpet and Amazing Grace echoed through the sanctuary on bagpipes. "We'll miss you brother," Brown said. "We'll take care of Jamie, and we will see you again." He will be sadly missed, but never forgot.

God Bless,