Authorities in Alabama say three people brutally murdered in cold blood earlier this month, including a young boy, were killed by a homeless burglar convict who was released from prison only months ago.
Seven-year-old Colton Ryan Lee was visiting his great-grandmother, Marie Kitchens Martin, 74, when a suspect broke into the home on Mulberry Street in Guntersville before robbing and murdering them both, Guntersville Police announced at a press conference earlier this month.
Their bodies were discovered on July 13, but the precise day of their death remains uncertain.
AL.com reports that the suspect, 52-year-old Jimmy O’neal Spencer, stands accused of strangling and stabbing Martin to death, while Colton died as a result of blunt force trauma. It it not yet known what type of weapon was used to kill the child.
Marshall County Investigator John Young said that on the same evening of the double-slaying, a third person’s body was found across the street who they believe was also murdered by Spencer. While detectives were investigating the deaths of Martin and Colton, they were called to the home of 65-year-old Marth Reliford, who hadn’t been seen in about 10 days. She was subsequently found slain in her home due to blunt force trauma after being stabbed and then struck with the flat side of a hatchet, Young said, adding that the woman was also robbed.
Police are confident they have the right man in custody, as surveillance video led them to Spencer as the prime suspect, and his own words have also aided them in the investigation.
“Yes, he’s cooperating with us in a way,” Young said. “He’s helped us with locating some of the items taken so I’m fully convinced.”
Spencer was released from prison in January after serving over 20 years on burglary charges. Young said the suspect was initially residing in a halfway house before he ended up in Guntersville in April. The suspected killer slept on park benches or ditches, and occasionally at a local shelter.
The suspected murderer is behind bars at Marshall County Jail charged with four counts of capital murder. Two counts are for killing Martin and Reliford, one count for killing a child under the age of 14, and the fourth is for killing two or more people.
Colton is remembered for his love of “John Deere, tractor pulls and monster trucks,” according to AL.com, who added that he also “adored his puppies, Harley and Max.”
The boy lived in Huntsville with his mother, Tiffany Martin Lee, and his older brother. According to a GoFundMe crowdfunding page established after the little boy’s murder, Colton’s father died before he was born, just three months after marrying Tiffany.
“Tiffany married her sweetheart Chris Lee in June 2010 but lost him only 3 months later,” a statement on the page reads.
“Colton was a sweet blessing born shortly after in November of 2010. However, this recent tragedy has taken him from Tiffany, too, along with her grandmother Marie.”
[Feature photo: Marie Kitchens & Colton Ryan Lee, GoFundMe]