UPDATE: Investigators Are Gathering Evidence, Building Case

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DEKALB CO., Ala. (WHNT) - Law enforcement agencies from three counties say they're working to charge the person or people responsible for Gary Lee Willis' death with murder, and they say they are steps closer to doing so.

DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris says three people are charged with kidnapping and are being held in the DeKalb County Jail on a $1 million bond:

-Christopher Todd Cagle, 28, of Albertville
-Delia May Downs, 33, of Albertville
-Michael Stanley Townsel, Jr., 28 of Fort Payne

L to R: Christopher Cagle, Delia Downs, Michael Townsel (Photos: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office)
L to R: Christopher Cagle, Delia Downs, Michael Townsel (Photos: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office)
 Sheriff Harris says his investigators are working with multiple agencies to charge at least one of those suspects with murder. "We're trying to get them charged with capital murder right now," Sheriff Harris says.  

Courtesy of: Etowah County Sheriff's Office

Gary Lee Willis, 38, of Boaz (Etowah County) was reported missing recently. His body was found on County Road 135 in Geraldine in a burning car on December 17. Investigators say he was shot multiple times.

Sheriff Harris says since they've named the three suspects they're hoping to move forward with a murder charge. Sheriff Harris says having all the agencies involved in a meeting got them a step closer to that charge. "We have to make sure we have the right person. We know we have the right three people," Sheriff Harris says.

He says some of the suspects are cooperating with investigators. Sheriff Harris says they need to make some more details concrete before a murder charge can surface.

Sheriff Harris says  this case appears linked to drugs and money and that is the motive in the case.

Investigators from three counties tracked down several leads in to Marshall County, and determined Willis had been at a home on Old McVille Road, off Alabama Highway 75, on Friday, December 13, and was removed against his will.

Investigators worked through the Christmas holiday on this investigation. Sheriff Harris says several agencies have been working long hours on this case, including the DeKalb, Marshall and Etowah County Sheriff's Offices, Geraldine Police, the Alabama Fire Marshal's Office, Alabama State Troopers and the FBI.


  • K. Graham

    Stanley Townsel was present when a friend “supposedly hung herself” his story did not add up and he was let go. How many people will die at the hands of this man before he is stopped. I feel like he is responsible for the death of my friend and she didnt get justice maybe this time they will get him off the streets for good!

  • t.clink

    Its a shame it took another tragedy. Prime suspect in niece’s death but it didnt make headlines. Guess she wasnt important enough or politically connected enough. I really hope the ones who allowed this to happen again sleep well tonight.

  • A. Williams

    Stanley Townsel was a prime suspect in my sisters death almost one year ago. His story was ever changing and didn’t add up! Her death was poorly investigated in my opinion and needs to be re-examined by the fort payne authorities and even the FBI! Sad it took this man being associated with another death to hopefully this time be put away! Authorities do not need let this man out! No one else needs to lose their life… Because I’m sorry his death streak is more than coincidence!

  • W.

    S. Townsel was just let go without a thorough investigation of a young lady’s death just last year. Most likely because the Police Dept. in Ft. Payne didn’t see her as ‘important’. Even though there were many very questionable conditions, must have been too much work for them. Or more likely, might have implicated them. Maybe now since more than one agency is involved, justice will be had.

  • Sandy McNutt

    There has been several deaths….homicides…I always thought that meant “murder” …that have not been investigated…my neice for one.that is still suppose to be under investigation, going on a year now!!…I am glad to know that this death is being looked into more thoroughly…..and I hope the FBI will find the ones responsible!!Maybe they can or will get to the root of all the corruption that has been going on for years in this little bodunck town!!!!!

  • Amanda

    Since Townsel has been in so many cases and most of his stories don’t add up I think he should be given the death penalty. For the other two I honestly think they just got caught up hanging with the wrong people. I don’t think they deserve the death penalty. They just got caught up in drugs and the wrong people.

  • Deonna

    To whom it may concern,
    I really hope justice is served for this poor man to these three people.I have no words for the poor an sloppy work Ft.Payne police dept calls “work”. An furthermore that whole little kit n kaboom along with the FBI should be investigated. ONLY in ALABAMA! It doesn’t matter if it was drug related hell who brings an import drugs here? As If we don’t know,but it still doesn’t give anyone the right to kill an as far as I’m concerned they all three need serious punishment they knew that what they had done was wrong not only was this man shot SEVERAL times,but sat afire!!!! NO TO DEATH PENALTY THAT’S JUST TOO EASY.THEY SHOULD LIVE EVERYDAY WITH TORTURE. An Stanley….I only hope God have mercy on you.

  • David

    Every one is thinking it of as a persons life being taken. But this man that was killed was horrible. He sold drugs to kids. Stole things and never got caught. He was an awful person. In my opinion this man is better off dead. We needed this man of the streets.

  • preacher

    “Thou Shall Not Kill”- GOD. “Vengeance is mine saith The Lord, I will Repay”. The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God!

    • Burt

      So David should not have killed the giant. And for doin so is hailed as a hero in our great teachings. The truth is preacher our Father is over it all and satan cant do a thing without seeking Gods allowance for him to do so.as proven in the book of Jod. So all things are just even when they seem to be .unjust to us.For it is in our Fathers hands.

  • red

    this was ah horrible man indeed. he raped women sold children drugs.and stole from a lot of innocent people! its a shame that happened but theres one less horrible person running the streets!

  • heather

    chris cagle is my brother and i know he has done a lot of wrong when he got mixed up with drugs but he is not a murderer as for the other 2 i do not know them but my brother never even carried a gun he would have roughed him up but not have shot him its a sad world we live in when someone has to die over drugs or drug money but i dont think that all should face a death penalty when only one person pulled the trigger they couldnt stop him from shooting the man ya they all need to be put in prison even my brother he was still involved but the one that pulled that trigger should be the one that faces a death

    • Christopher

      Heather, Chris may be your brother, but drugs will cause a person to do things that they otherwise would not do. If he was involved in drugs, he is capable of murder whether it is out of character or not. Drugs will take a person much further than they are otherwise willing to go, will keep a person much longer than they want to stay, and will cost them much more than they are willing to pay…

  • unknown

    i know these 3 people and they are not horrible like everyones.making them out to be. you don’t know the situation they were in and probably never will so dont be so quick to pass judgement.your not god!!!! its a shame someone lost a life but I dont think any of these should facr a death penalty!!!!! thats insane especially over another dope head!

  • preacher

    whosoever lives by the Sword, shall die by the sword! Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto Man to die once, and after that the JUDGEMENT”. We ALL will answer to God one day. Turn or Burn! Amen…

  • Burt

    As Al Capones (Scarface) once said y should the coppers care the ones that die are as bad as the ones who kill them in the gang war.his theory was bad guys killin bad guys who cares until the good guy get it in the chopper.

  • jamison-jones

    Thats the ‘perfect storm’ of being around drugs, doing drugs, selling and buying of the same. The end result has never been disputed. Either you end up in jail or are dead. Period. Ain’t no way in between.Its a vicious cycle and all those involved including the dead man knew this was coming at some point in their business. But just like eating popcorn, you can’t just at one! you keep on till its over. He’s dead, they in jail and the outcome shouldn’t be a surprise. All you character witnesses can say what you want, the fact of the matter is, someone is dead and someone’s gon’ pay for it.

  • D.Meadows

    It makes no difference what kind of people got killed or for that matter who killed them..bottom line a murder was committed a very horrible murder…again this isnt the first time townsel was involved in a murder..my niece was a fine upstanding citizen who had cars..a business of her own a home and within 6mths of being around this junkie she lost it all including her life..she was hung at his hands..there was mo evidence of suicide…she weighed 87 lbs and was helpless against his anger..i hope and pray he gets what he deserves..it may not bring her back but justice will be done and hopefully he will die by the same manner he took away from Gina.

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