Foul play suspected as remains found in well identified as missing Lee County man

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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – A Valley man has been arrested after the body of a man reported missing back in December was recovered Sunday from inside Beulah well.

“On the evening of Sunday, December 29, Lee County Sheriff’s Investigators served a search warrant at a residence located at 9686 Lee Road 279 Valley in connection with the disappearance of James Edmund Clarke,72, of Valley, Alabama,” said Sheriff Jay Jones.

Clarke

Investigators say a post mortem examination conducted Monday morning revealed stabbing and gunshot wounds to the body and the manner of death as a homicide.

Investigators say an acquaintance of Mr. Clarke, identified as 58-year-old Hubert Timothy Sprayberry of Valley, Alabama has been charged with murder.

Sprayberry

“Mr. Clarke was reported missing to the sheriff’s office on December 19, 2019. He had not been seen for approximately three weeks prior to the report being received,” said Jones.

The body recovery process was lengthy. It took several agencies about two and a half hours to recover the body from the well. Opelika Fire and rescue, Beulah Fire and Rescue, Lee County EMA and the Tallapoosa County Rescue Squad assisted in the recovery of the victim.

The incident remains under investigation by the Lee County Coroner’s Office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

If anyone has any information concerning the case, please call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at 334-749-5651, Lee County Crime Stoppers at 888-522-7847.


Previous story:

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – A homicide investigation is underway in Lee County after human remains were discovered in a well at a Beulah residence. A person of interest has been identified in the case, according to investigators.

The remains have been identified as 72-year-old James Clarke who was reported missing back in early December.

Sheriff Jay Jones is expected to release more information soon, but did confirm investigators were serving a search warrant Sunday night at a residence in the 9000 block of Lee Road 279 in the Beulah community in reference to the missing persons case.

Coroner Bill Harris confirmed Clarke’s identity Monday morning and says he lived along Lee Road 380 address.

“Clarke has been missing since early December. In the process of initiating the search warrant by sheriff’s deputies and investigators, they located human remains of a male subject in a well at the residence. He was pronounced the male subject dead at the scene,” said Harris.

The recovery process was lengthy. It took several agencies about two and a half hours to recover the body from the well.

The body was taken to the medical examiner’s office of the Alabama Dept. of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death and for positive identification.

“The incident is being investigated as a homicide. It is still unclear at this time as to what transpired leading up to the death. Sheriff’s investigators are pursuing several leads and have developed a person of interest in the case. It is not believed that the death was a random act,” said Harris.

The Opelika Fire and rescue, Beulah Fire and Rescue, Lee County EMA and the Tallapoosa County Rescue Squad assisted in the recovery of the victim.

The incident remains under investigation by the Lee County Coroner’s Office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

If anyone has any information concerning the case, please call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at 334-749-5651 or Lee County Crime Stoppers at 888-522-7847.


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