I called the Birmingham cold case detectives the other day. I thought I would write about them and their work, and even some of their cases if it would be beneficial to them to do so. Homicide was the number I called, and I talked to a detective who was not cold case. He said the two cold case detectives were working on a murder that had happened the night before. I assumed cold case detectives work on active homicides, and then on cold cases when time allows. He told me he would pass along to the cold case detectives, one lady and one man, that I had called, and ask them to call me. I told him of two cases I had written they might want to read, “The Salad Dressing Murder”, and “I’m Going to Kill You, You F’king Bitch”. I did not point out this story, murder in our small town, although I probably should have. I gave the detective my site address, and someone from his office did read both of the stories I mentioned to him.
The cold case detectives never called me. Perhaps they did not like the fact that I write about many subjects on my site, not just murder cases. Maybe they just didn’t like my site period. I would have liked to ask them about this murder case, murder in our small home town, that is approximately 30 years old. Were there ever any suspects? Did they arrest anyone? Did anyone ever come to trial? If they did, I never heard about it. I’m sure the dust has settled on the files in this case, and my druggist friend is still dead. Perhaps some members of his family might have died by now. I do believe some of his family members are still alive, and would like to see justice done, although at this point in time, what is justice? Imprison someone or someones? Execute them?
I’m sure cold case detectives have a number of cases to work on. I’m not sure how they choose which ones they will work on. Maybe ones where there is a possibility of solving the murder. I’m sure they do their very best, in an uphill battle that has hundreds of pieces to the puzzles that never fit together. But surely there is something in this case that occurred after my friend was murdered. Somebody who was questioned. Somebody who was a suspect. Why not call me, and let me at least put that information out there for people to read. The case may never be solved, but surely there is something to report. Surely the case didn’t die on the same day my friend died.
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An Unsolved Murder in Our Small Home Town
An unsolved murder in our small home town might be an anomaly in the context of today. There’s probably one a month now, and that figure might be low. I would guess a significant number of those stem from drug deals gone bad.
For all I know, there might be blatant criminals running up and down the streets in broad daylight. I don’t go to the old home town anymore, because I might not make it out alive. I do feel sorry for the law-abiding citizens who outnumber the criminals. They have to endure shots being fired at their houses, if a retaliatory target is standing on the sidewalk when gunfire erupts.
But in the late ‘80’s, there was the one murder that has a very slim chance of the perpetrator or perpetrators ever being brought to justice.
What makes this different from all of those in current times is that I knew him. He was a pharmacist and owned a drug store in the town that accumulated those magnificent years of our lives. I had done business with him for 32 years, even after we moved to another community. Sure it was inconvenient to drive back, but he was that kind of fellow, one you enjoyed doing business with.
We discussed many more topics than the medicine I was picking up. One thing I liked about him was the fact he didn’t shy away from giving you his opinion.
I do remember being in his store one time when a couple of fellows must have been trying to hustle some drugs from him. He showed them the front door.
He had a couple of older ladies who worked for him, and a young, black delivery fellow probably late teens. None of them were there when the attack occurred. He had probably only just opened the store, and that may account for the fact he was there alone.
A church was only a block away. To paraphrase the title of John Berendt’s novel, mid-morning on the street of good and evil.
The criminal (s) beat him mercilessly in the head. I do think there were at least two, because, although he was not a tall fellow, he was built strong. One-on-one he would have beaten the daylights out of any one individual trying to beat the daylights out of him. There had to be a gun somewhere he kept on the premises he never got to.
I was at the hospital late that afternoon, and talked to members of his family. He was still alive, but critical. The delivery fellow was there also—trying to hold back tears, but he couldn’t. What I had ever seen of conversational exchanges between them when I was in the store, reminded me of a father talking to his son, even though they were not of the same color.
My friend died the next morning. That would have been two weeks before he was set to turn the keys of the drug store over to a new owner.
I do think some people in the community knew who killed him. Perhaps a hopped-up drug addict. Maybe two men who planned to ransack the drug inventory, and sell the drugs for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. Those of the community had to consider the harm that might come to them and their families for ratting them out. You don’t get witness protection at that level.
I’m quite certain based on what my friend told me, he could have become rich if he had decided to go to the shady side of drugs. But he wasn’t that type fellow. He was not about to turn loose any prescription drugs to do major damage to the people he served, his customers overwhelmingly black.
He had strict principles. That may have cost him his life. In knowing him, when he was confronted with the attack if he didn’t comply with their demands, I believe he would have told them to go straight to hell.
The loss of any life is important. The loss of life for someone I knew reminds me what the friends and family of today go through on a regular basis. I’m certain we all have private moments when we ask, “Why?”
Maybe my friend can get a two-day pass from up there to go down there, and beat the hell out of them when they get to Hell.