On Thursday, police said Simon David Mitchell, 30, was panhandling in and around the Vidalia Walmart in the days before a Lyons Primary School teacher was stabbed to death in her car.
Investigators are trying to work out why Robin Matthews, 24, let Mitchell into her car in the Walmart parking lot Wednesday. The two are not believed to have known one another.
Matthews was found dead in her car on the side of the road off Ga. 292 about 15 minutes later.
Friends remember Matthews as a kind soul, a first-grade teacher who was working on her master's degree in early childhood education at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Matthews graduated from Toombs County High School in 2008. She had recently gotten married.
In court Thursday, Mitchell blurted out that he is "as guilty as it gets" of the murder.
He's being held without bond at the Toombs County Jail.
Mitchell was released from prison in January after serving eight years of a 15-year sentence for aggravated assault with intent to commit sodomy after attacking a woman with a hammer at a Vidalia video store in 2006.
Despite Mitchell's confession, the case will still go to a grand jury for indictment.
"The statement he made today was one we do not consider part of the case file itself at this time," Middle Judicial Circuit Hayward Altman said. "What we will do is we will proceed forward with the investigation."
Investigators are still searching for the knife they believe Mitchell used to kill Matthews.
Counselors are being made available at Lyons Primary School although school is out on summer break. Counselors will also be made available when classes resume in the fall.