NEW DETAILS: Man charged in stepfather’s 2009 Madison County murder

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Madison County Sheriff’s Office says Clarence Fearn has been arrested and charged in connection with the 2009 murder of his stepfather, George Woodard, Jr.

L to R: Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning, Sgt. Brian Chaffin and Investigator Hose at Thursday's news conference at the Sheriff's Office. (Photo: Michelle Stark/WHNT News 19)

L to R: Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning, Sgt. Brian Chaffin and Investigator Hose at Thursday’s news conference at the Sheriff’s Office. (Photo: Michelle Stark/WHNT News 19)

Fearn was arrested Tuesday, according to Sgt. Brian Chaffin.  Investigators discussed the arrest with Woodard’s family earlier this week, and they expressed relief at the news.

Sgt. Chaffin did not discuss the specifics of the case.  He said the case isn’t closed — they are still talking with people and added more suspects may  be brought in and questioned, not for Woodard’s murder, but other issues surrounding the crime.

Clarence Fearn (Photo: Madison County Jail)

Clarence Fearn (Photo: Madison County Jail)

Fearn was always a person of interest, Chaffin said.

Chaffin also said the case was never cold, and said the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t use that term.

“I hope every victim has trust in us that we are doing everything we can to solve their case,” said Sgt. Chaffin.  “We don’t like to call it a cold case.  Investigator Hose did something every single day to [get closer] to an arrest in this case.”

“You may have a case you don’t have fresh information every day.  But you open the file, you may receive new information, tips, and you do something every day to help keep the case fresh,” said Sgt. Chaffin.  “You cannot forget. You want to speak for the deceased, in this case, Mr. Woodard.”

Woodard was shot in the head in his driveway on September 30, 2009.  He died there.

George Woodard (Courtesy: the Woodard family)

George Woodard (Courtesy: the Woodard family)

His home was at the corner of Debbie Boulevard and Naugher Road, just off Jordan Road. He was a supervisor at the Toyota plant in Huntsville, and was a deacon at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

Wednesday evening, church members had previously decided to take the week off from Wednesday evening church meeting, but a church member who lives near the church says the news is “shocking.”

In 2009,WHNT News 19 talked to Shelia Woodard about her brother’s death. “I have to forgive whoever did this to my brother, because he was in choir rehearsal last night and he did the closing prayer, and we were very close, and he’s an all-around Christian,” she said. “He was a person you would see the glory of God on.”

Woodard’s wife and one of their three children were at home at the time of the shooting. His sister told WHNT News 19 they all had a tough road ahead.

“I’m going to miss my brother, because he was my rock,” said Shelia Woodard.

Fearns’ bond is set at $50,000. Court records show Fearn was charged with attempted murder after shooting at someone in August 1994.  He pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment.

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