A relative of the southeast Georgia couple shot to death Dec. 20 near the Amicalola River in Dawson County said their families are struggling to cope with the deaths.
“They were good people,” said Debra Harris, sister of Paul Budrawich. “They made a mistake, but they loved their children and were getting them back. The children don’t understand, they’re very young.”
The bodies of Paul and Jennifer Budrawich were found about one day and several hundred yards apart in the river.
The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has charged Jennifer Budrawich’s stepfather, Jessie James Kilgore, with murder in their deaths.
Kilgore’s nephew, Benjamin Kelly Mullinax of Dawsonville, also has been arrested and charged with murder.
Both suspects are being held without bond at the Dawson County Detention Center, awaiting Jan. 19 hearings in Superior Court.
Authorities are releasing few details, including a motive, about the case.
The Budrawichs had traveled from Effingham County to visit their children that weekend. The get-together was supposed to be their last before reclaiming custody, family members have said.
Kilgore is the father of one of Jennifer Budrawich’s three sons.
Harris said the deaths have been especially hard on the family, which held funeral services for Paul Budrawich earlier this week in Guyton.
She said her mother is very upset and her uncle had to be taken to the hospital after suffering a heart attack due to the stress of the situation.
“The children were their life,” Harris said. “They fought for the life of their children -- even in their last moments -- because that’s how much they loved each other.
"The family is having a hard time. They really need to find peace. I want everyone to remember my brother and his wife for who they were. Every breath they took was for their children. They were so excited to be getting those kids back.”
A memorial service was held Saturday for Jennifer Budrawich at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Dawsonville.
The family is asking for donations for the funeral and for their three sons. The couple did not have insurance. A fund has been set up at BB&T.
Authorities found the couple’s bodies a day after receiving a frantic 911 call from a woman saying she was going to be shot.
The call was from Jennifer Budrawich. A woman’s voice could be heard asking someone, “Why are you shooting us? Why did you bring me down here to the river?”
Harris is grateful for the call.
“I just thank God the 911 call was made,” she said. “At least they can go home.”
Rick Lott with the Effingham Herald contributed to this report.