Police in Tuscaloosa County investigated 22 homicides last year, making 2020 one of the most violent years in the last two decades.

Almost every death outside of a hospital setting is investigated by the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, a multi-agency team of investigators comprised of detectives from the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office, the Northport Police Department and the University of Alabama Police Department.

Captain Jack Kennedy, a TCSO investigator and the commander of the VCU, said his team investigated 22 homicides last year and no cases were left open -- one killing was deemed justified by a grand jury and the other 21 cases led to charges being filed.

17 suspects were charged with murder, Kennedy said, and four were charged with capital murder.

According to data compiled by the Tuscaloosa News last year, Tuscaloosa County has not seen 22 homicides in a single year since 2008, although 2019 came close with 21 homicides reported.

 

Since the year 2000, Tuscaloosa County has only exceeded 20 homicides five times -- 27 cases in 2006, 22 cases in 2008 and 2020 and 21 cases in 2016 and 2018.

According to reports from the Violent Crimes Unit, these are the homicides that took place last year:

In January, Carl Evans Boyd fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, 49-year-old Carla Fluker Mack, on New Year’s Day in Lake View. Later that month, 25-year-old Justin Deshun Moore shot Taderrell Bernard Witherspoon in the neck. Witherspoon died in early May from complications after the shooting.

In February, 22-year-old Darrieon Dees was killed in a gunfight with a group of juveniles on 24th Street, but investigators believe Dees and his friend Deramus Devalle Harris instigated and escalated the violence. Harris, 16, was charged with murder after police determined he was responsible for the confrontation that led to Dees' death.

In March, a 22-year-old was shot and killed at Stillman College. No charges were filed, as the killing was believed to be in self-defense. Later that month, Kenneth White shot and killed his 50-year-old cousin Virgin Lee Hopkins at the Fosters boat landing, possibly over a dispute they’d had in the past.

In April, 18-year-old Lamarcus Keon McNeal fatally shot Xzavier Eatmon at Winston Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Less than three days later, 18-year-old Nathaniel Patton killed 20-year-old Dominic Coleman in a gunfight at the same convenience store.

There were no homicides reported in the county in May.

In June, 22-year-old Joshua Pearson accidentally shot and killed his brother 23-year-old Laquavius Pearson when recklessly shooting a gun outside the Marathon gas station on James I. Harrison Parkway. Later that month, 24-year-old Omar Fowler fatally shot 44-year-old Henry McAlpine on Elm Street in Tuscaloosa during an argument. Also in June, Johnneius Wilson and Keyonta Jones, both 16, were charged with killing 33-year-old Jeffrey Charles and injuring two others with gunfire at a party in Alberta City.

In the most harrowing month of the year, two 19-month-old girls were killed within 48 hours of one another in "tragic, unrelated" cases of child abuse in July. 31-year-old John Thompson is believed to have killed his girlfriend’s toddler daughter in Coker while she was at work. The same weekend, 28-year-old Felix Tabb killed a toddler he was tasked with watching over at Broadmoore Gardens Apartments.

Also in July, Deanta Lavendar, 26, and Semaj Taylor, 30, fatally shot 28-year-old Kevin Matthews at an Independence Day party at Crescent East Apartments in Tuscaloosa and 23-year-old Eric Markett Hayward shot and killed his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend Leonna Tucker at Rum Creek Apartments

There were also four homicides in the month of August. 17-year-old Robert Ursery IV fatally stabbed his mother’s boyfriend, 54-year-old Keith Lavett Brown, at Hay Court Apartments.

25-year-old Alajuwon Winters mortally wounded 19-year-old Dangelo Jackson in a drive-by shooting on James I. Harrison Parkway.

25-year-old Devonte Montel Hinton shot and killed 35-year-old Justin Lanier Douglas in an attempted robbery at Sun Valley Apartments on 36th Avenue East.

42-year-old James William Sheppard told police he "blacked out" before fatally shooting his 43-year-old wife Stephanie Megan Sheppard at their home in rural Tuscaloosa County.

There were no homicides reported in the county in September.

In October, 22-year-old Zachary Profozich shot and killed 19-year-old Schuyler Bradley during a confrontation on the University of Alabama Strip. Also in October, 30-year-old Kathy Marie Dean stabbed her 60-year-old boyfriend Willie Armstrong at his apartment in West End, where he bled to death.

In November, 28-year-old Eric Fowler murdered his 56-year-old romantic partner, Tammy Ledbetter, at her home in Cottondale.

In December, 30-year-old Tiffany Washington smothered a 6-month-old baby to until she was unresponsive at a home in West Tuscaloosa. The infant died days later at a hospital in Birmingham and Washington was charged with the child's murder.

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