Police in the Tallapoosa County town of Camp Hill say they have solved a cold case after a 78-year-old woman was murdered in her own home.
Willie Louise Kellum was 78-years-old in 2005. She lived in her Camp Hill home for most of her adult life. Her daughter, Kamaron Cloman, now lives in Washington, D.C. but says her mother touched the lives of everyone she met.
"My mother was a sweet woman, she was always willing to help anyone. If you need a nickel, she'd give you a nickel. If you needed a dime, she'd give you a dime," said Cloman in a phone interview with Alabama News Network.
In February 2005, police say a family member found Kellum's body inside her home. She had been beaten and strangled.
"There was a lot about this case that just really bothered me, and here's somebody that I could not, I think, passively, get anybody in the community to say anything negative about," said Camp Hill Police Chief Roosevelt Finley, who was one of the first officers on the scene when it happened.
Police did have a few suspects at the time though, including Markis Head, a Camp Hill resident.
"He seemed to be the consensus favorite, just around town, as to who could have committed this. He has a history of sexual predation, and so he was definitely up higher on the radar," said Lt. Nathan White with Camp Hill PD.
There was not enough evidence to make a case then. In 2010, though, police took another look, resubmitting DNA samples to a lab for testing. Police say Markis Heard is what they call a "definitive link," giving her family a sense of closure, even though the case hasn't gone to trial yet.
"It is wonderful to know that it is finally resolved. At the same time, it is unfortunate that another family will have to deal with this, but it feels good for our family to know it is finally, after 8 and a half years, it is resolved," Cloman said.
Police say they are also working on two other colder cases and they expect to make breaks in those cases, too.
Camp Hill Police say they have passed their findings on to the Tallapoosa County District Attorney, who will bring the case before a grand jury.
Markis Heard is currently serving a 15-year-sentence at Kilby Prison on an unrelated sexual abuse case.