Suspect held in motel death

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Selma Police are questioning a suspect in the death of a woman at Craig Motel.

The body of Patricia Johnson, 40, was found by relatives in the woods behind the Selmont motel around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, according to Police Chief Robert Green. Selma police were contacted after the discovery.

Monday afternoon police received word from the Alabama Department of Forensics that the cause of death was strangulation. That, according to Green, changes the investigation from a death to a homicide.

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Green said that there are a number of suspects in the case. One of them, he added, was taken into custody for questioning Monday afternoon.

As of Monday, though, Green said police still had no motive in the case.

Johnson was originally reported missing on Thursday by her mother, Lucy Freeman. According to Green, Freeman last saw her daughter Tuesday, when she dropped her off at the motel where she was living. The two were supposed to meet Wednesday, but Johnson couldn’t be found.

The manager of the Craig Motel said that Freeman told him Wednesday morning that she hadn’t seen her daughter.

On Thursday, the manager said Freeman came to the motel and took some of her daughter’s belongings. He added that Johnson’s boyfriend removed his belongings from the room and checked out Friday afternoon.

The manager said that around noon on Sunday Freeman asked him if she could look for her daughter in the woods near the motel, and he agreed.

Freeman later returned from the woods and called 911 from the phone in an open room, the manager said.