Killing of Alabama teens still unsolved 18 years later
DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Northview High School seniors J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett were found dead in the trunk of Beasley’s car in Ozark on Aug. 1, 1999. The two girls were planning to attend a party in southeast Alabama.
They never arrived at the party, and 18 years later family, friends, and members of the community are still praying for justice to be served.
“There is not a day that goes by I don’t think about J.B.,” said Patti Simpson, friend of J.B.’s. “She was full of energy and just a joy to be around. She was an amazing, well-mannered girl, who had a passion for dance. I was proud to have her not only live with me and my husband, but it was also a joy to be her dance instructor.”
Simpson, like many other family members and friends, are praying that the killer or killers will answer for the crime committed.
“These two girls did not deserve this at all,” Simpson said. “They had their whole life in front of them and it was taken away. They deserve justice.”
According to Carol Roberts, Tracie’s mother, rumors and suggestions have played a large role in the murder case.
“You can’t always believe what you hear,” Roberts said. “Over the years, it has been said the girls were headed to a field party. No they were not. They were headed to a birthday party for J.B. There have been rumors on this person may have done it, or that person may have done it. There are just so many questions that have not been answered. Why would someone do this? Who would do this? We may never know the answers to these questions. The one or the ones responsible for Tracie and J.B.’s death may never be caught, but I pray every day that whoever is responsible is caught. I used to pray that whoever done this would never sleep another night until they confessed. I wanted that person to have sleepless nights. Lord knows I have had plenty.”
Although Roberts hopes and prays for justice for her daughter, over the years she has learned how to accept that although Tracie is not physically with her, she is spiritually with her.
“I take comfort in the fact knowing the last thing my daughter had to say to me was ‘I love you’,” Roberts said. “So many times those words are not the last words heard. I have had to face the fact my daughter’s murder may never be solved. But, while facing that fact, I have seen and realized just what a gift I did have by the Lord giving me Tracie. She wasn’t with me as long as I would have wanted her to be. But the years I did have her, she was my joy. I lost Tracie’s’ father when she was 4 and I thought that was the most horrible thing I would ever have to go through. I was wrong. When I lost my daughter, that was the worst thing I could go through.”
Roberts pleads with the individual or individuals responsible for the death of the girls.
“These girls have actually been dead longer than they were alive,” Roberts said. “I know someone knows something and I hope and pray someone will come forth and let these two young girls rest. Let us put this to rest. Please, let them find rest. I ask you to please come forth.”
Former Ozark Police Chief Tony Spivey worked the case from the day the bodies were found until he retired in 2015.
“I think about this case constantly,” Spivey said. “The fact I could not provide answers or provide justice gets to me. Solving this case is something I hoped would happen before I retired, but it did not work out that way. I know hundreds if not thousands of man-hours were used tracking down leads and investigating this case. I also know the police department is still working on this case, and I pray it gets solved. I hope and pray the answers will be found and justice will be served. I hope sooner than later for the families involved. All murder cases are horrible, but when it involves two young girls just going into the prime of their life, well, it’s heartbreaking.”
Following Spivey’s retirement, Marlos Walker became chief of the Ozark Police Department.
“We have this case assigned to investigators,” Walker said. “The investigators are constantly relooking at the evidence retrieved, checking on old leads and new leads. It is a constant case review. When I became chief we had four cold case files, we have solved two out of the four, and I strongly believe this case will be next case to be solved. I want everyone involved to know, we are working this case, we are doing everything we can to solve this case.”
Like Carol Roberts, Walker believes there is more information about the case.
“Listen, I know someone out here knows something, and it will come out,” Walker said. “All it will take is for one person to hear one thing, and it will all come out, and that will happen. I encourage anyone with any information regarding this case to call. That caller can remain anonymous. There is a reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for this crime.”
Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com