Missing elderly man found dead at bottom of well; police charge suspect with murder

Published 2:43 pm Monday, December 30, 2019

A 72-year-old Alabama man was found dead in a well in Beulah and police are investigating it as a homicide, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.

The victim was identified as James Edmund Clarke, and he had been missing since early December, according to the coroner.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office was serving a search warrant Sunday night at a residence in the 9000 block off Lee County Road 279 in reference to the missing man, but in the process of initiating the warrant they located Clarke’s body in a well at the residence.

Harris pronounced Clarke dead at the scene.

It took about two and a half hours to recover the body from the well, according to the press release. The body was taken to the medical examiner’s office of the Alabama Dept. of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death and for positive identification.

According to the press release, it is still unclear at this time as to what transpired leading up to the death, but police do not believe it was a random act. They have charged a 58-year-old man, who they believe knew Clarke, with murder.

Hubert Timothy Sprayberry was arrested by Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Al.com reported that Clarke’s body had been shot and stabbed before being dumped into the well.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (334) 749-5651, Lee County Crime Stoppers at (888) 522-7847, or the Lee County Coroner Secret Witness line at (334) 742-4339.