Two held in Ga. in murder of Fonda trucker

Two Columbus, Ga., residents were arraigned on murder and other charges Monday in the 2007 shooting

Two Columbus, Ga., residents were arraigned on murder and other charges Monday in the 2007 shooting death of Fonda resident John L. Belfance, according to the Columbus Police Department.

Mario Williams, 26, and Diana Branchfield, 45, were ordered held without bond following a preliminary hearing, Columbus police Sgt. Frank Massa said.

Williams was charged with murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, all felonies, Massa said.

Branchfield was charged with murder, Massa said. The arrests took place on Friday.

Belfance was 52 when he was found dead in the cab of his tractor-trailer around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1, in south Columbus.

Police at the time said he was found in a dark parking lot in the city near the Alabama border and about 110 miles south of Atlanta. Belfance worked as a truck driver for the Amsterdam-based C.V. Holdings, a plastics manufacturer with a production facility in Alabama.

Belfance’s son, John Belfance II, said Monday from the Alabama factory that he learned of the arrests this weekend but he did not know further details of the case. Belfance said Columbus police were attentive to his family in New York.

He said he never felt like the investigation was a “run-of-the-mill case number.”

Belfance said Columbus police had a number of crimes to investigate at the time of the 2007 slaying of his father.

“We were always treated as if it was very important to [police] to solve that case,” Belfance said.

Belfance said he and other family members made calls at least every month hoping to learn any news on the investigation. He said several family members were happy to learn arrests were made in the case.

Massa said police got information on the two suspects while investigating another case which turned out to be unrelated.

Police determined John L. Belfance was shot in the side with a .32-caliber gun during a robbery.

“They were trying to rob him of money,” Massa said. Massa declined to say how much money the two suspects are accused of taking from the victim.

Massa said both Branchfield and Williams are “known to our system down here” but he declined to describe their arrest records.

Categories: Schenectady County

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