ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Limestone County Sheriff's investigators spent two days last week on the backwaters of the Tennessee River looking for evidence in the March 27, 2012 slaying of 68-year old Barbara Delaney. What they found is believed to be the murder weapon.
Capt. Stanley McNatt confirms for WHNT News 19 the sheriff's department received information that 33-year old James Paul Pigg, Delaney's grandson, had dumped several items off a fishing pier for the handicapped in the Joe Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, just off Highway 67 between Decatur and Priceville. On Wednesday of last week, investigators retrieved a hammer from the waters near the pier using a high-powered magnet. McNatt says they believe it to be the same hammer Pigg is accused of using to allegedly bludgeon his grandmother in her Limestone County home. The hammer will be sent to a state forensic science lab for analysis.
McNatt says the Morgan County Rescue Squad was asked to put a diver in the water the following day to search for additional evidence. McNatt declined to comment on the results of that search.
One of Delaney's neighbors witnessed a portion of the beating that apparently began in the woman's house and continued into her back yard where she was heard yelling for help. The neighbor notified authorities who found Delaney in the yard. She was rushed to a nearby hospital but died of her injuries. An autopsy ruled the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Pigg was arrested a short time later. He was indicted by a Limestone County Grand Jury in April on a charge of murder, and entered a not guilty plea at an arraignment hearing in July. He remains in the Limestone County Detention Center under a $50-thousand dollar bond. A trial date has not yet been set.
WHNT News 19 learned of the search for evidence last week but honored a request from sheriff's investigators not to air the story at the time for fear it may jeopardize their investigation.