Boyfriend charged with motel murder

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A suspect brought into custody on Monday in the Craig Motel murder case has been officially charged.

Selma Police Chief Robert Green said Lee Authur King, 45, was charged with the murder of Patricia Johnson, 40, at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

King, who had been held for questioning at the municipal jail, will be transferred to the Dallas County Jail, Green said, where he will await a bond hearing. The hearing could occur as early as today.

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Of the arrest Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said, &uot;I want to commend the police department for their timely response to this heinous crime and express my condolences to the family of the deceased.&uot;

Johnson was found Sunday afternoon by relatives in the woods behind the motel. On Monday, the Alabama Department of Forensics ruled the cause of death was strangulation.

Greene also said that it appeared Johnson had been the victim of domestic violence in her relationship with King.

King was living with Johnson at the motel, according to Chief Green.

Johnson was first reported missing on Thursday by her mother, Lucy Freeman. Green said that Freeman last saw Johnson on Tuesday. They were supposed to meet the next day, but Johnson couldn’t be located.

The manager of the Craig Motel said Johnson’s boyfriend removed his things from the room on Friday afternoon. Freeman had taken some of her daughter’s belongings the day before, he added.

Close to noon on Sunday Freeman returned to the motel and asked the manager if she could look for her daughter in the nearby area.

The manager said he consented and shortly afterwards,

Freeman returned from the woods behind the motel and called the police.

Greene said that a preliminary hearing would be the next step after the bond hearing. The state would present evidence showing why King should be held, and would occur within 30 to 45 days.

The case would then go to the grand jury in March.

If King was indicted by the grand jury, Greene said, he would appear at an arraignment where a formal plea would be entered. A trial date would then be set.