SMITHS STATION (WRBL)- An east Alabama family lives with the haunting mystery of a loved one’s unsolved murder—an agonizing wait that continues now, two decades later.
A relative discovered 59-year-old John Pitts, Jr. murdered in his Smiths Station home back on November 17, 1999. Since that awful day, his killer or killers have remained free. But Vicky Pippins, daughter of Mr. Pitts, says she and her family will not give up their fight for justice.
Pippins says she asked her husband to stop by and check on her father that November afternoon because she had not seen her father that day and he was not answering her phone calls. Pippins says her husband looked through a window and saw her father on the floor. She says her husband broke through the door and went inside to discover Mr. Pitts dead, in what could only be described as a brutal scene. The family would later learn Mr. Pitts had been stabbed and beaten.
Mr. Pitts did not venture too far from home due to health problems, Pippins says. But she says he would get out of the house daily. Mr. Pitts would usually come to see her, make trips to the bank, or frequent a restaurant in Smiths Station he enjoyed.
Pippins says her father did tend to carry large amounts of cash. She says she feared that habit made him especially vulnerable to criminals.
“It’s my thoughts that maybe somebody in the restaurant seen him with money. I would beg him not to go in there with money, but he did,” Pippins recalls.
Pippins says after her father’s body was found that law enforcement spent the entire night inside his home collecting evidence. Heartbroken and in disbelief, Pippins said she looked on while staying at her grandparents’ home, adjoining her father’s property.
“It’s hard for me to understand why they didn’t have enough evidence to do something by now. It’s real hard to understand,” Pippins says, remembering the large amounts of items she believed law officers were collecting and removing from the crime scene.
However, at the same time, Pippins does praise the Lee County Sherriff’s Office for caring about her father’s case. She says Sheriff Jay Jones holds a special place in her heart for his warmth and kindness. Pippins says Sheriff Jones helped her pay for billboards asking for information in her father’s case.
Pippins also expressed appreciation for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who pushed to secure a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in her father’s case.
In the years since her father’s murder, Pippins became an activist. She served as vice president of Crime Stoppers and became involved in VOCAL (Victims of Crime and Leniency). Her husband also became a reserve Lee County deputy.
Pippins says she wanted to bring her father’s case back into the spotlight in the hopes that someone, somewhere will come forward. Doing so, she says, would help bring her family a small measure of peace after years of not understanding why her father, a man she describes as loving, kind-hearted and giving, would be brutalized and killed in the family home where she spent her childhood.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (334) 749-5651 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 522-7847.
The $10,000 reward is still offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Mr. Pitts.