LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Limestone County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of 35 year-old Christopher Thomas Copeland for the murder of his girlfriend, 37 year-old Tonya Lee Carroll.
Sheriff Blakely says the couple had been into a domestic confrontation throughout most of the night, and neighbors say they were awakened by the the sounds of the dispute early Sunday morning.
"Heard it this morning, they were awakened by the dogs, and could hear a lot of hollering and screaming. And this is a person who has a violent history in the past, and he was just discharged from the prison just three months ago," says Blakely.
The Sheriff's Office has graphic recordings of some of the early exchange where Copeland can clearly be heard threatening Carroll.
"You can hear her screaming for help, and him threatening to kill her at about 5:45 this morning."
Investigators say the cause of death appears to be blunt force trauma to the head, "It could have been a fire extinguisher, the bathroom door being kicked down," adds Blakely.
Family and friends of the victim told investigators that the couple had a history of domestic violence, and that Carroll had left him on occasion. The two have a child together.
"People like this when they threaten to kill, and in an abusive relationship it does not stop not unless something drastically changes in that person's life, so if people are in that type of relationship they need to get out of it and stay out of it," says Blakely.
Thomas Christopher Copeland has a past record for violence, and drug related arrests, he had recently been released from prison after a ten-year sentence for assault.