Suspects in multiple murders in custody
Sheriff Murray Blackwelder (at left) and District Attorney Rob Carter address the media during a press conference Friday.
In a press conference Friday (click video link on the home page to view the entire press conference), authorities here said they are confident that two men they have in custody on unrelated charges are responsible for the multiple murders occurring here inLincolnCountyandNorth Alabamain late October.
“Within 48 hours of this incident, we had two people in custody who we believe to be involved in this case,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder during the press conference late Friday afternoon. “They will remain in custody on unrelated charges, and we do not have to be in a big hurry to go through a mountain of evidence on this case.
“With these people off the street, we do not feel like anyone is being threatened by their presence,” he continued, adding that both suspects are being held in the Madison County, Ala., Jail.
The press conference, led by Blackwelder, also included District Attorney General Robert Carter and Brent Patterson, a criminal investigator with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.
Carter said that within days of the murders, he had asked the state crime lab inNashvilleto expedite its analysis of evidence in the case. He went on to echo the sheriff’s comments in regard to the magnitude of evidence.
“The lab has two issues,” he said, “one, the evidence in this case is what the sheriff describes as a mountain of evidence – it is a lot, a lot of different types of evidence and a lot of different items … A second issue our lab has is that on the same day as the events here, almost at the same time, Nashville/Davidson County had a multiple murder. Our case has the same priority as that case – both have top priority.
“We asked them to expedite it, and they are,” he continued, later adding that he would not speculate on the length of time it will take for evidence to be properly analyzed. “Our hope is [that it’s] sooner than later … The prudent thing to do in this situation is to take evidence, take your time, and do it right. These guys are in custody, so we’ve got the ability to do it the way we are, and it’s going to work out.”
While the two suspects have not been charged in the case, Blackwelder said they are cooperating “somewhat” with the investigation. He added that they and others involved in the case “were all friends, acquaintances, associates.”
On the morning of Oct. 22, authorities here inLincolnCountygot a call to do a welfare check at aHuntsville Highwayresidence less than a mile north of the Tennessee/Alabama state line. A 3-year-old in the home had dialed a family member, saying his mother wouldn’t wake up.
When authorities arrived, they found Chabreya Campbell, 22, and her 18-month-old son Rico Ragland dead in the home. Chabreya was also believed to be about six months pregnant. Chabreya and Rico lived at the home along with her 3-year-old son Vincent Crutcher, who was found there unharmed. The second adult found dead in the home was 21-year-old Amber McCaulley, ofHuntsville, Ala.
That same afternoon authorities were called to the home of Jessica Brown, 21, at4 Fox Wood Drivejust offMonks Roadin southernLincolnCounty, not far from where the first three victims were discovered. Brown was found dead inside the home. Her 2-month-old son was in the home unharmed.
Then, just after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23,Huntsville, Ala., police responded to a shooting call and found Jeffrey Pope dead at 5102 Ortega Circle, where investigators at the time said three men, dressed in black, were seen fleeing. Just hours later, at about 8 a.m., the body of Warren Vincent Crutcher, Jr., was found just off B.H.Reeves Roadin Hazel Green.
“The one thing I want everyone to understand is our need for a conviction, our need for justice for the victims and their families, outweighs any information that the public would be entitled to,” said Blackwelder. “That’s why we’ve been as quiet as we have. We need justice for our victims; we need justice for our families; and no one has a right to endanger that.”