Arrests made in 14-year-old Clanton murder case (updated)By Stephen Dawkins Published 4:16pm Thursday, October 4, 2012
An arrest was made Wednesday morning in connection with a 1998 Clanton murder.
Marty Joe Taylor, 50, of Clanton was arrested in Chilton County, the result of a lengthy investigation undertaken by several agencies, said C.J. Robinson, chief deputy district attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit, which includes Chilton County.
The body of 39-year-old Jennifer Gail Hampton, a resident of Second Avenue South, was found by a passing motorist off Hinkle Road in Clanton on Oct. 18, 1998. An autopsy determined that she was shot in the back of the head.
The death was treated as a homicide–Clanton’s first since October 1994.
“Detectives conducted an investigation, and, based upon the collected evidence and technology available in 1998, no arrests were made,” Robinson said.
The case went cold in 1999 and was re-opened in 2011. Robinson credited updated forensics technology for the breakthrough.
Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell said evidence recovered in 2005 was discovered to be related to the case.
Keith Maddox, now Clanton deputy chief of police, was the original investigator working the case.
“He has always kept this folder on his desk,” Stilwell said about Maddox while holding the case file. “I can’t thank the district attorney’s office enough. We are extremely happy that we were able to bring some closure to the family. This is something that was important to us.”
Taylor is being held in Shelby County Jail and has been charged with murder.
Taylor’s bond was set at $250,000, Robinson said. They will soon appear before Chilton County District Judge Rhonda Hardesty for a preliminary hearing.
CPD Sgt. Robert Bland signed the warrant on the suspect.
The circumstances surrounding the murder are still under investigation. The victim and the suspect were acquaintances, Stilwell said.
In a release, District Attorney Randall Houston praised the agencies cooperating in the investigation, including the Clanton Police Department; the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office; the Alabama Bureau of Investigation; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department as well as district attorney’s office investigators.
“The family of Jenny Gail Hampton has waited a long time for this day,” Houston said. “The investigation took a lot of hard work, and I’m proud of the cooperation and diligence of everyone involved.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments in this ongoing case. A second arrest made Wednesday morning for the murder of Jennifer Gail Hampton was reported originally, but officials said later that the second suspect was to be released from jail and that authorities had come to believe he was not involved with the murder.