Solving Cold Cases: Dallas County has 28 unsolved murders

Published 10:32 pm Friday, April 19, 2019

According to the Dallas County District Attorney Office, Dallas County has had 130 homicides since 2009, but for the families of 28 of those victims, there remains no closure as their cases remain unsolved.


The Selma Times-Journal obtained a list of unsolved murders from the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, with input from the Selma Police Department (SPD) and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO). According to those reports, 26 of the 28 unsolved murders happened in Selma.

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For two mothers who lost their sons to violent shootings last year, their deaths have caused frustration, grief and an inability to find closure about what happened to their children.


Velma Shuford and Sonja Jivan are two of 28 Dallas County residents who hope either the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office or the Selma Police Department will find out who murdered their sons.


Shuford lost one of her sons, Jermaine Sanders, in a fatal shooting on Thanksgiving night at the 1800 block of Church Street. Jivan’s son, Quentin Davis’ body, was found at the 400 block of Pettus on July 3, 2018. Neither have heard any updates from the SPD.


“The police haven’t contacted me nor his wife on the case,” Shuford said. “It’s very frustrating to see that the case is still open and nothing has been done.”


Jivan said her son’s death has affected her life.


“It’s very hard for me,” Jivan said. “My attitude is real messed up right now and I’ve never had a bad attitude. The police aren’t doing anything to help me and I haven’t heard anything from them.”


SPD Evidence Technician Clarissa Cole said while families may not be hearing regular updates on their cases, it’s not from lack of effort by authorities seeking to bring the person or persons to justice for what they did.


“What people fail to realize is that a homicide case is never closed,” Cole said. “We try not to notify families and give them false hope. We call them when we have information on those cases.”


Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson said solving cold cases will end pain for the victim’s families and show that the justice system works.


“We like these cases to be solved and bring closure to families,” Jackson said. “But you don’t want a possible murderer not being brought to justice because it erodes confidence in our judicial system. Nobody wants these people on the streets. Unsolved murders can help breed vigilante justice.”


The SPD and DCSO investigated the unsolved murders that took place in their respective jurisdictions. The SPD and DCSO also occasionally work together. The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and the federal-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provide assistance when needed.


A current ALEA official assigned to the SBI Division, who chose not to be identified for this story, said the state investigative body is always available to assist murder investigations in Dallas County.


“We assist the local jurisdiction in the city and county and other state agencies with anything ranging from a misdemeanor to federal crimes,” the unnamed official said. “The number of crimes that have occurred over the last decade in Dallas County is about average.”


ATF Special Agent/Program Manager Michael P. Knight said the organization has made it a priority to reduce murders in Dallas County.


“ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence focuses on the partnerships that aid in the disrupting of the shooting cycle that effects our neighborhoods,” Knight said. “ATF is pleased to be no better partner with the communities within Selma and the law enforcement partners which work together to provide a safe environment for the public. ATF and our partners will remain engaged from the enforcement perspective, solve historical crimes and to disrupt future criminal acts by these violent offenders as well as aid in community based programs that have a positive impact.”


SPD Detective Beauty Benjamin said information from the unsolved cases will be re-examined by a current officer that initially investigated the case or a new officer assigned to it.


“The SPD Detective will brainstorm the whole incident, then visit the witnesses, crime scene, and check medical records if any,” Benjamin said. “The detective will look over the scene for things they missed or something that slipped through the cracks. The SPD will bring in new people. Maybe the person who worked the case at the time didn’t have rapport with the individual. The person investigating the case may have found the individual and forgot to tell them something. The information is stored in our system called AEGIS. Everything we collect in the case is filed. The Alabama Department of Forensics Sciences will tell us what’s useable in the case.”


Cole said the SPD has processed physical evidence in those cold cases to forensics and are waiting for those results. Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) pays for both the autopsy and forensics.


Dallas County Sheriff Mike Granthum said the upgrade in technology provides a fresh look at cracking the county’s two cold cases. He said the DCSO is assisted by a federal system called National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).


“NIBIN is on loan from the federal government,” Granthum said. “There’s only 4-5 of them in the state, and Montgomery has one. NIBIN identifies bullets that we log into the system and it’s made a difference in helping us solve crimes. It’s another tool we have in the toolbox.”


Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said a special crime unit consisting of retired law enforcement officers would go a long way toward solving cold cases. He has a similar idea and plans to discuss it with both Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and the City Council.


“We’re working on a program to focus our resources on unsolved homicides and missing persons,” Collier said. “It needs the approval of the city council. Homicides are one of those crimes it’s hard to solve, it’s tough.”


Here are the unsolved cases for Selma and Dallas County:

City of Selma


Joshua Jackson: The 16-year-old sophomore at Selma High School was gunned down on March 1, 2010 at the intersection of Marie Foster Street and Selma Avenue.


Randy Miles: Miles’ body was found lying in the 1400 block of Eugene Street on Nov. 16, 2010 after suffering a gunshot to the chest.


Danny Jackson: Jackson’s body was found shot in the right leg and lying in the 1200 block of Washington Street on Dec. 3, 2010.


Bridget N. Woods: Woods was asleep in her home at Marie Foster Street and killed when multiple shooters opened fire outside the home and sent rounds into the house on Feb. 17, 2012.
Andre Robinson: Robinson, was shot in his chest during a robbery in the 1700 block of Saint Phillips Street on April 22, 2014. Three suspects in the robbery ran away.

Frederick Harris: Harris was gunned down in the 300 block of Broad Street on Dec. 27, 2014.

Taffine Berry: Berry, a mother of three and her husband Tra Berry were shot outside of a nightclub in the 1400 block of Marie Foster Street on March 14, 2015. Tra was shot in the leg, Taffine died two days later.

Jimmy Wayne Griffin: Griffin’s body was found April 10, 2015 after a fire in a mobile home on Karen Street was extinguished. He had been shot in the back.

Charles Simpson: Simpson was found shot to death on the sidewalk near the intersection of 38 Mechanic Street and Alabama Avenue on June 11, 2015. He had a gunshot wound to the chest.

Aquavis Lee and Thomas Shelton: Shelton and Lee were shot and killed at the intersection of Marie Foster Street and Selma Avenue on March 3, 2016.

Cedric Williams: The 18-year-old senior at Selma High School was shot and killed outside his residence in the 2500 block of Etheridge Avenue on March 30, 2016.

Byron McDonald: McDonald was shot and killed April 2, 2016 in the 100 block of South Maxey Street.

Derrick Nichols: A body found Nov. 30, 2016 in the woods on River Road by a landowner was identified as 17-year-old Derrick Nichols.

Katrina Moore and Coleman Moore: Their house was intentionally set on fire Dec. 8, 2016 on the 800 block of Pettus Street. Katrina was on in-home dialysis, Coleman suffered from cerebral palsy.

Jaequan Simmons: Simmons was shot to death Dec. 16, 2016. in the 1900 block of Kayser Street.

Quadriquis Bell: Bell was killed Dec. 18, 2016 in the 1600 block of Martin Luther King Street.

Charlie Sanders: The 62-year-old Selma man was shot in the front yard of his home May 5, 2017 in the 1607 block of Tremont Avenue.

Mike Stone: The 32-year-old California man was shot to death Jan. 9, 2018 in the 2500 block of Summerfield Road.  SPD said Stone was shot four to five times with a handgun.

Quentin Davis: Davisbody was found July 3, 2018 in the 400 block of Pettus Street. SPD said he was shot multiple times in the back.

Jasper Smith: Smith was shot in the neck on Sept. 9, 2018 in the 1400 block of Saint Ann Street and pronounced dead at the scene.

Raven Carter: Carter was pronounced dead on the scene Sept. 23, 2018 in the 500 block of Minter Avenue.

Jermaine Sanders: Sanders was shot in the neck in the 1800 block of Church Street and pronounced dead at the scene on Nov. 22, 2018.

Andrae Ellis: Ellis’ body was found Nov. 23, 2018 in the 1100 block of Broad Street.

Achilles Rutledge: Rutledge’s body was shot multiple time and his body was found slumped in a vehicle in the 400 block of MLK Street Jan. 28.

Tarrance Callen: Callen’s body was discovered in the backyard of an abandoned house on Lapsley Street on April 13.

Dallas County

Brenda Craig: Craig was shot in the foot and hip in the 700 block of Circle Drive Dec. 28, 2010. She succumbed to her injuries at Vaughn Regional Medical Center.

Kirby Brown: Brown was found lying on his back in the 700 block of Mweyne Street Jan. 21, 2015. He was shot several times and pronounced dead at the scene.