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Author Topic: Alabama: Baldwin County's Unsolved Homicides  (Read 9492 times)
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...and Injustice for most

« on: February 10, 2010, 11:06:28 AM »

Baldwin's unsolved homicides

Daniel Barter -- 1959: The 4-year-old disappeared on the shore of Perdido Bay on June 19, north of the U.S. 98 bridge. No trace of the child was ever found after days of intensive search by police and volunteers. Tracking dogs followed the child's scent to a road where a soft drink bottle of the same variety the child had been holding when last seen was found, leading some family members to believe the boy could have been abducted.

*case profiled below
Dorthea "Dee Dee" Downey -- 1985: The 20-year-old University of South Alabama student was found strangled on U.S. 31 between Spanish Fort and Stapleton on Jan. 12, 1985. Her skeletal remains were found several months after she was last seen in Mobile in April 1984. Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said she had been killed in another location and her body left in Baldwin County.

Bobbie Nell Dees -- 1985: The nude, decomposed body of the 38-year-old Bay Minette woman was found in a wooded area near the communities of Crossroads and White House Fork on April 21. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The woman may have been struck by a vehicle in another location and her body dumped at the site, Mack said.

Marsha Hart-- 1985: The 35-year-old woman disappeared under mysterious circumstances after last being seen at a friend's home in Lillian on June 27. Police said foul play was suspected.

Jerry Lewis Bishop -- 1987: The 34-year-old Bay Minette man was found shot near the campus of what was then Faulkner State Junior College on Dec. 22, two days after he was last seen alive. He had been shot once in the chest with a rifle, Mack said. Bernard Johnson, 32, was arrested and charged a day after police found Bishop's body, but was never indicted for the shooting.

Alina Louise Middleton -- 1993: The 27-year-old Grand Bay woman disappeared March 22. Her body was found in Mobile Bay near the Causeway the next day. An autopsy found that she had been shot. A suspect, Billy Ray Adams, was arrested six weeks later in Georgia, but the Baldwin County grand jury ruled there was not enough evidence to indict him in connection with the case.

Unknown -- 1994: The man's body was found in the woods off Ala. 225 near Bay Minette on Jan. 7, 1994. His clothing indicated he may have been from the West. Officials suspect the man may have been one of a group of Hispanic workers who had passed through the area a year before. The man, believed to be 45 to 55 years old, was found by a hunter.

Roy Landon Scott -- 1997: The 43-year-old Pace, Fla., man was found dead on Fairview Road near what was then Ala. 112 on Sept. 14, a week after he was last seen in Cantonment, Fla., investigators said. Two men who noticed his parked car found the decomposed body about 75 feet from the dirt road.

Unknown -- 2000: The body of a man was found in Styx River near the Seminole community on March 25. The body was found at Donovan's Landing by two fishermen, officials said at the time. The man was believed to be between 30 and 40 years old.

Rilla "Kay" Sheehan -- 2001: The 44-year-old woman disappeared from her Robertsdale home on Dec. 10. Her car was still in the driveway and no items were missing from the house. Investigators found no sign of a break in. The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office now lists her disappearance as an unsolved homicide.

Kenneth Clay Pierce -- 2001: The body of the 44-year-old man was found in Seminole on Oct. 3. He had been killed by a blow to the head and his body placed in a three-foot by two-foot tool box, according to reports published at the time. The body was badly decomposed when found. Authorities said at the time that Pierce was believed to have been killed in Florida and his body dumped across the Alabama state line.

Sanford Lee Ledbetter -- 2006: The 54-year-old Elberta man was found in January, after he had last been seen in Magnolia Springs the previous May. The skeletal remains were found near the M&M Mud Bog arena at the end of Prochazka Lane between Foley and Elberta. The case is being investigated as a homicide, according to Foley police. 

Michael Saucier -- 2009: The 54-year-old man was found in his Foley home on Jan. 23. He was in his bed and had suffered head and neck trauma, according to reports at the time. Foley Police Chief David Wilson said the case was being investigated as a murder.

Some cases are listed as closed following an arrest, but the person arrested was not convicted.

Karen Lynn "Tracie" Morgan, 38, of Mobile was found off the Causeway in February 1992. Her badly decomposed body washed up on a mud bank in Mobile Bay two months after she had disappeared. She had been strangled. David Bernard Rader was charged with murder in the case, but was acquitted after a trial in 1996.

Arthur "Bobby" Wilson died Dec. 28, 2007, from wounds suffered during a robbery of his Spanish Fort service station on Aug. 11. Leslie Eric Buzbee, 25, was charged with killing Wilson, but was found not guilty of capital murder in 2009 after two earlier trials ended in mistrials.

1985 death of South Alabama student, others still open in Baldwin County
By Guy Busby
February 07, 2010, 7:01AM
BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- A quarter of a century after the remains of University of South Alabama student Dorthea "Dee Dee" Downey were found off U.S. 31 near Stapleton, former District Attorney David Whetstone still believes the case and others could one day be solved.

Downey was last seen alive in Mobile in April 1984. On Jan. 12, 1985, skeletal remains were found about 100 yards off U.S. 31 south of Stapleton. In April 1985, the bones were identified as Downey's.

"I have a feeling that I know who did that and it could come about one day," Whetstone, district attorney from 1984 to 2006, said. "That's one I still have hope for. We were close, but we could never get some pertinent information. We worked with the FBI and we worked with the Mobile investigators on that one."

In addition to Downey, the files on unsolved Baldwin homicides, or cases believed to be possible homicides, include a Bay Minette man shot with a rifle in 1987, a woman found floating off the Causeway in 1993, a Robertsdale woman who disappeared from her home in 2001 and a man whose body was stuffed into a plastic box in Seminole in 2005.

Many older unsolved homicides are cases in which authorities believe the victims died elsewhere and their bodies were left in Baldwin County, Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said. He said Downey was one such case.

"We believe Miss Downey was deposited there," Mack said. "She was not killed there. The last place she was seen alive was over in Mobile."

Whetstone said that in the past, victims from surrounding jurisdictions were often left in Baldwin County.

"At one point in the 1980s, we were a dumping ground," Whetstone said. "We're right between Mobile and Pensacola and this area was more rural, places were more isolated back then."

Mack said the lack of a crime scene where the murder took place makes the cases more difficult to solve. In some instances -- such as a man's body found in Styx River in Seminole in 2000 -- investigators don't even know the victim's name.

"When you look at the unsolved cases, you kind of have to gauge them by solvability," Mack said. "Do you have evidence, witnesses, a crime scene? With the Seminole Doe, that case is probably never going to move forward unless we can get someone to come forward who is able to ID him."

The Seminole victim had several tattoos, including a woman's face on his right shoulder, a nude woman on his right forearm, woman's face with the name "Becky" on his left shoulder, woman's face with leaves beneath it on his left forearm and "C110" on his inner left lower leg. Officers hope that such evidence may one day help identify the victim.

The sheriff said investigators have more evidence in other cases that he hopes will lead to their solution.

Alina Middleton, 25, was found dead in Mobile Bay near the Causeway in 1994. Mack said investigators found evidence that she had been killed near the Interstate 10 off ramp.

"With the Alina Middleton case, we have something close to a person of interest in Mobile County, but we have not reached a point where we've solved the case. In that case, we have a crime scene and we have evidence."

Mack said investigators never give up hope that cases can be solved. He said one case, the disappearance of Daniel Barter in Lillian, remains on the list a half-century after the 4-year-old was last seen.

Whetstone said the cases from the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s show that homicides can be solved, even after decades.

As a young prosecutor, Whetstone served under then-Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley in the 1970s when the state reopened some of the cases, including the death of four young girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.

"The Baptist Church case was the greatest cold case of all time as far as I'm concerned," Whetstone said. "It showed what could be done."

Three men were later convicted in the case over the next 39 years.

In 1977, Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss was convicted. He later died in prison. Thomas Blanton was convicted in 2001 and is serving a life prison sentence. Bobby Frank Cherry was convicted in 2002 and died in prison two years later, according to previously published reports.

"As people get older, they sometimes want to set things right and they come forward," Whetstone said. "Sometimes you just need one person coming forward or an officer to find something that nobody had noticed before and that can open the whole thing up."


Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware/Of giving your heart to a dog to tear  -- Rudyard Kipling

One who doesn't trust is never deceived...

'I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind' -Edgar Allen Poe
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