GPD Chief fabricated, released record identifying Will Sanders as Matthew Boynton’s father


The GRIP, through a series of Open Records requests (ORRs), has obtained public records establishing that Griffin Police Department Chief Michael F. Yates fabricated and released to some media outlets a document falsely identifying Will Holloway Sanders as the father of former Griffin police officer Matthew Lee Boynton.

Sanders, who has been an outspoken critic of Yates, played a key role in the criminal investigation that resulted in Boynton being charged with two felonies – false statements and writings and violating his oath of office.

Sanders denies there is any truth to Yates’ paternity allegation.
The following articles provide an in-depth review of the history that preceded the fabrication and release of this document:
BREAKING NEWS: GPD Officer Matthew Boynton arrested, charged with two feloniesM
Matthew Boynton: The evidence and investigation that led to his arrest
Matthew Boynton criminal case no billed by grand jury
GPD releases citizens’ personal Facebook records

A second document comprised in part of the components of Yates’ document was on May 29 released in response to an Open Records request submitted to the city of Griffin by CNN/HLN Producer Kyle Peltz.

After learning of this document’s existence, The GRIP on July 22 submitted an ORR for that same document.

Teresa Watson, the executive secretary of City Manager Kenny Smith, as well as a designated assistant Open Records officer, responded July 25, denying production of the document.

“The City of Griffin has no public record responsive to ‘an official copy of the attached document that was previously produced to Kyle Peltz, CNN or HLN,’” Watson said.

Additionally, although it had not been requested, Watson also reported the city would not produce any public records pertaining to the document’s origin.

“We decline public disclosure for the origin of the hard copy that was provided, which you already have, based on Georgia Code Annotated §50-18-72(a)(3) Exception of certain records, ‘Except as otherwise provided by law, records compiled for law enforcement or prosecution purposes to the extent that production of such records is reasonably likely to disclose the identity of a confidential source, disclose confidential investigative or prosecution material which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or persons, or disclose the existence of a confidential surveillance or investigation,'” Watson stated.

The GRIP objected to the city of Griffin’s preemptive refusal to produce any records associated with the document’s origin as a violation of the Georgia Open Records Act, which permits only limited redactions, not the stance taken by Griffin officials resulting in the broad withholding of all records.

In response to The GRIP’s objection, the city of Griffin produced four records – a photograph of Matthew Boynton identified as Boynton.png, a photograph of Sanders identified as sanders.png, a screen shot of a private Facebook message identified as chat.png and a Word document composed of those three elements identified as will.docx.
Although the origin of those components was not then produced, a later Open Records request did establish that those four records were in a folder on Chief Yates’ computer desktop. Once a disc containing those records was obtained, Yates’ work process was identified.

According to the metadata obtained from the disc, Yates fabricated the original document identifying Sanders as Boynton’s father hours after the close of business on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 – the night before Thanksgiving.

The document was created by Mike Yates at 8:22 p.m. and saved at 9:02 p.m., and the three images used to create that document were saved the same night – sanders.png at 8:30 p.m., chat.png at 8:31 p.m. and boynton.png at 8:53 p.m.

The original source of the Facebook private message remains unknown as city officials refuse to release that information, but The GRIP has identified the origin of the photographs of Boynton and Sanders Yates used. Both were procured from the mobile version of the 11Alive website, specifically from an article posted only a few days prior, Nov. 16, 2018.

That story, Trigger: Over and Out, written by 11Alive investigative reporters Brendan Keefe and Jessica Noll, in part addressed Sanders’ allegation that Yates had targeted him for retaliation after he obtained and turned in the physical evidence that resulted in two felony charges being brought against Boynton, who, at that time, served as an officer with the Griffin Police Department.

The 11Alive report may be seen in its entirety at:

Asked the obvious question – are you Matthew Boynton’s father – Sanders responded emphatically, “Absolutely not.”

Sanders said that is a question never asked of him by Yates.

He asserts that the fabrication and release of this document is the continuance of Yates’ ongoing “history” of retaliation against him and others.

“This document would align perfectly with Yates’ past behavior in Jonesboro, Ark., which was a personal vendetta against a local reporter that ultimately led to his resignation,” Sanders said. “Chief Yates’ history confirms he will use any means necessary to silence his critics.”

The GRIP confirmed that Yates did not authenticate the private Facebook message he used in the document, and Sanders said he does not recall that specific message, nor is he able to authenticate it himself.

“I have no way to authenticate that message since I have completely deleted my Facebook account,” he said. “I deleted it because I did the right thing. I did everything I was supposed to do – I took the bag (of evidence) up there – and they went through months of my private messages because I did the right thing. I did exactly what I thought I was supposed to do.”

The private Facebook message Yates used does not identify both alleged parties to the conversation. It instead indicates an unidentified party asked, “Exactly what is your relationship with Matthew’s Mom. (sic) You fathered a child with her?”

in response, a profile identified only as “Will” responded, “Matthew is my son.”

The unidentified party replied with a thinking emoji and the statement, “Oh, really? I bet that makes a strange family reunion.”

The “Will” response was a laughing with streaming tears emoji.

When asked under what circumstances he may have responded in that manner, Sanders said, “If I would have sent that response, it would have been as complete sarcasm to an absurd question. I have no relationship with Matthew Boynton.”

The sole difference between the document Yates created the night of Nov. 21, 2018, and the document that was ultimately released to some media outlets was a fourth component – an altered excerpt from one of Sanders’ private messages obtained by Lt. Karen Yancy when a search warrant was served on Facebook as part of the Boynton false statements criminal investigation.

That private conversation involved Sanders and Benjamin Thiel, who discussed Boynton’s mother, who is named Jenny McDaniel, and a second woman named Jennifer Maddox.

“Jennifer Maddox and I do have a child together,” Sanders explained.

Asked if Jennifer Maddox is Boynton’s mother, he said, “No, she isn’t.”

When asked if that private conversation pertained to two different women with similar first names – Jennifer and Jenny – Sanders responded, “Yes, and obviously whoever created this document knew we were talking about two different women because they intentionally edited out parts of the conversation to make it appear that Jenny and Jennifer are the same person.”

Sanders said his experiences with Yates have left him with a different perspective for the future.

“Even if I am an eyewitness to a murder, I will never do anything to help any police agency again. Ever,” he said. “Chief Yates will never be held accountable for any of his actions, whether they’re legal or illegal.”

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: For more than two years, Griffin Police Department Chief Mike Yates has demanded The GRIP Publisher Sheila Mathews submit all questions in writing, but Mathews, viewing that requirement as contrary to journalistic standards, as well as the GPD Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), declined to do so. However, Yates has now so significantly revised the GPD SOP relating to media relations that there is no longer any alternative but to defer to his longstanding demand.
Therefore, Mathews submitted the following questions in writing on Thursday, Sept. 5, and Yates’ response was received the same date.

Chief Yates,
In accordance to the revisions you have made to the Griffin Police Department Standard Operating Procedure Chapter 29 Public Information/Media Relations policy, I respectfully submit the following questions, and I request your responses by noon Monday, Sept. 9.

The GRIP: Three individual components – a photograph of Matthew Boynton identified as boynton.png, a photograph of Will Holloway Sanders identified as sanders.png and a screenshot of a Facebook private message identified as chat.png – were used to fabricate a document identified as will.docx, which identified Sanders as Boynton’s father. What was the source of those three components?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: Who obtained those three individual components?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: Were any of those components provided by a confidential informant? If so, which were provided by a CI? In what format was it produced?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: Why was the component identified as chat.png not authenticated before being disseminated to some media outlets?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: The document identified as will.docx was fabricated well after business hours on Nov. 21, 2018, the night before Thanksgiving. Where did you fabricate that document?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: How did that document later come to be in a folder on your Griffin Police Department computer desktop?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: Those three components – boynton.png, sanders.png and chat.png – were later used to fabricate a second document that contained a fourth component, an excerpt from the private Facebook messages of Will Holloway Sanders that were previously obtained by your agency via a search warrant served on Facebook. Who fabricated that second document?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: The fourth component of that second document that was obtained via a search warrant served on Facebook was evidence in a criminal case – the Matthew Boynton false statement case. Prior to being used as a component in the second fabricated document, that evidence was edited. Who altered that evidence prior to its use in that capacity?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: A fabricated document identifying Will Holloway Sanders as the father of Matthew Lee Boynton was placed in the Boynton false statement criminal case file. Who placed that document in that file?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: Why were these two documents fabricated months after the Matthew Boynton false statement criminal case had been closed?
Yates: No response.

The GRIP: What relevance to Boynton false statement criminal case did these fabricated documents hold?
Yates: No response.

While Yates did not answer any of the questions submitted in writing according to his demands, he did respond with the following email:

Ms. Mathews,
In accordance to the revisions made to the Griffin Police Department Standard Operating Procedure Chapter 29 Public Information/Media Relations policy (which has little change or effect from the previous policy), we respectfully decline to answer the below questions as it is discretionary as to how we respond to questions regarding closed and/or active investigations, false allegations and rhetoric, or confidential sources of information. Additionally, you have been provided an opportunity, through your myriad of open records requests, all the material relevant to your below questions which you have either failed to pay for and pick up or failed to comprehend; we are not required to do your work for you.
For clarity, am I to understand from your questions that you are alleging that the statement/Facebook message regarding Will Sanders was not originally created by Will Sanders?
As to the dissemination of the material to other parties, we simply responded to requests made through the Georgia Open Records Act as required and, as you well know, this act opens the material to anyone.
Mike Yates

Additional articles related to this issue will be forthcoming.


  1. Hi Ms. Matthews, You are the epitome of what journalism is supposed to be. Your unwavering relent to seek the truth is commendable. I applaud you for your hard work and ethical professionalism you uphold everyone too regardless of trying to hide behind a badge!
    Do you know if internal investigation ever got involved with the Boynton case and if not, why. Also, do you know of any enforcement agencies higher than internal investigations on the hierarchy that should and could become involved in the seek for justice and charging all those dirty cops? Thanks.

  2. Hello Ms. Matthews, I found you after watching a video about the Jessica Boynton story. I don’t know if you’re still working on this, please contact me.

  3. I just read the New Yorker article and found your paper and original work through the Internet. I moved from Griffin 30 years ago and find all of this appalling, yet not surprising. You are to be commended for your perseverance in and determination for getting the truth out.

  4. Richard E. says:

    You are doing what journalism ought to be doing: bringing the truth to light, holding those in authority accountable, never giving up. I encourage everyone in Griffin and Spalding County not only to keep reading The Grip, but also the Oct.7 edition of The New Yorker. If you didn’t already know them, you will find out things about “Chief” Yates that will make your blood boil. The city should fire him immediately; vindictive, corrupt, and unfit for office. Keep fighting the good fight, Ms. Mathews; we need you!

  5. Katherin Calderon says:

    Sheila Mathews, you are amazing. I love that you don’t cower before anyone. You just keep asking uncomfortable questions, never letting up. This is what journalism is supposed to be.

  6. David Bowen says:

    I bet your husband has a great time at work. Great job!! keep it up!

    • Thanks, David!

    • TheNYerReader says:

      Hi Ms Mathews, I came across your reporting about this case from the New Yorkers, and your news reporting of this police corruption case fascinates me, I hope you continue with this work and I’ll be following up in the future too. Perhaps at this time someone should get FBI involve!


  1. […] The GRIP’s original article about Yates’ fabricated document can be read here: GPD Chief fabricated, released record identifying Will Sanders as Matthew Boynton’s father ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Prior […]

  2. […] GPD Chief fabricated, released record identifying Will Sanders as Matthew Boynton’s father ____________________________________________________________________________________________ […]

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