Arrest made in Calhoun County murder cold case from 2003 - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Arrest made in Calhoun County murder cold case from 2003

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Randall Wayne Kirkpatrick (Photo: Dyer County Sheriff's Office) Randall Wayne Kirkpatrick (Photo: Dyer County Sheriff's Office)
CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. - A Tennessee man faces murder charges more than a decade after his wife died in Piedmont.

Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson announced Tuesday the arrest of 33-year-old Randall Wayne Kirkpatrick for the murder of Deborah Lynn Smith Kirkpatrick.  She was 22 at the time of her death in June 2003.

The initial report was of an apparent suicide.  Amerson said an investigation by the Piedmont Police Department and Department of Forensic Sciences concluded that it was an undetermined cause of death.

Ann Parris, Deborah Kirkpatrick's sister, said she knew right away that it was not suicide.

"It just felt like it was in a nightmare.  It didn't seem real.  It still doesn't," Parris said.

"I knew my sister, and she wasn't suicidal."

She said her sister was preparing to leave her husband because of negative behavior.  Parris said Kirkpatrick did not want the couple's infant son to be in that environment.

Randall Kirkpatrick moved to Tennessee with the young boy right after his wife's death.  Parris said she kept in touch with her nephew on Facebook in recent years, but after investigators reopened the cold case, she said Kirkpatrick blocked family members from seeing the child's Facebook page and also changed phone numbers.

"He didn't just kill her.  In a way, he literally killed my family.  It destroyed my family.  A lot of them has took the wrong paths since then," Parris said Tuesday.

She said she knew a day would come when investigators would find proof this was not a suicide.  Parris said she continued to fight for years by ringing phones of the hook and knocking on doors.

Sheriff Amerson said the Calhoun County cold case unit and the Calhoun-Cleburne District Attorney's office reviewed information last year that led them to reopen and reanalyze the case.

"After many months of hard work and interviewing witnesses ... and attempting to interview the husband, evidence was developed that this case was not in fact a suicide but was in fact a homicide," Amerson said.

The Center for Applied Forensic Science at Jacksonville State University helped investigators reconstruct the room of Deborah Kirkpatrick's home where police found her body.

District attorney Brian McVeigh said there were questions about the crime scene from the very beginning.  He said the story put forward by Randall Kirkpatrick did not match all of the forensic evidence in the home.  Investigators said Kirkpatrick's actions were not consistent with the expected response of a grieving spouse.

"Once they reopened the case and began interviewing evidence, they found some additional evidence that assisted in providing a potential motive," McVeigh said.

"If it wasn't a suicide, then there was only one other person in that room who could have done it, and that led us down the path toward grand jury."

A Calhoun County grand jury indicted Randall Kirkpatrick in June for murdering his wife 11 years earlier.  Deputies in Dyer County, Tennessee, took Kirkpatrick into custody Friday for extradition back to Alabama.

Amerson said this is the 13th murder solved by Calhoun County cold case unit since its creation in 2000.

"Cases like these allow a murderer to walk free among us," Amerson said.

"It is our duty and responsibility, whenever we possibly can, to bring closure to that case.  Closure to the family, and to bring justice for the victims who can no longer speak for themselves."

Ann Parris said she is ecstatic about the arrest, but she does not expect to get closure from it.

"I do expect justice," she said.

"I think maybe now it will start healing some of those broken pieces.  I don't think it will ever be completely healed."

Investigators said Randall Kirkpatrick has not answered any of their questions despite numerous requests for interviews during recent months.

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