What started as a ‘regular case’ in south Columbus ended up as a twisted east Alabama homicide


Much of the tragic kidnapping and murder case of Tameka Skinner played out in Alabama from Russell County to Wetumpka. But it started in South Columbus.

Teresa, though it ended a 100 miles from Columbus, it started about 1:30 Monday morning in a South Columbus apartment complex.

The police call to the Huckleberry Hill complex early Monday morning seemed routine.

“It is the kind of case when you run up on it, you think it is a regular case,” Columbus Police Maj. J.D. Hawk said. “But this was in no way a regular case, as we all know now.”

The initial call was a robbery and possible kidnapping at the apartments. Quick police work was able to locate Tamika Skinner’s vehicle, though Hawk won’t say how.

“A this time, I can’t release that,” Hawk said. “And in no way do we want to hinder the Alabama case.”

The four suspects —  suspected mastermind 30-year-old Demetria Johnson of Columbus, 40-year-old Shaun Johnson and 30-year-old Joshua Tolbert also of Columbus and with 33-year-old Jayvonn Phillips of Seale, Ala. — are facing capital murder charges in Alabama. They will likely face kidnapping and robbery charges in Columbus.

Within two hours of the initial 9-1-1 call, a Columbus police detective and a Russell County Sheriff’s detective located Skinner’s car, and another car connected to the suspects.

It was good police work on both sides of the river, Hawk said.

“We were lucky to get where we got,” he said. “There was some really good investigative work both by ours and Russell County. At one point, they are both talking to each other in one spot and one notices one thing and the other notices the other, Just working together good.”

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said that the motive appeared to be jealousy.

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