NORTH ALABAMA (WHNT) — Less than two weeks into 2023, North Alabama has seen six violent deaths across the area.
Five homicides and one death in a deputy-involved shooting have already marred the “clean slate” that a new year is supposed to bring.
While many have started 2023 with resolutions and new beginnings, there are several families across the Tennessee Valley mourning the loss of their loved ones.
January 1 – Alexis Garth
Alexis Garth, a 26-year-old mother from Athens, was killed after an alleged domestic violence situation on New Year’s Day. Her boyfriend, 20-year-old Ky’Ruan Yarbrough, was arrested and charged with murder.
Garth had been shot five times just before 4 a.m. and was lying in the driveway of the home the two shared when authorities arrived.
Her mother said the 26-year-old was trying to protect her 3-year-old daughter.
It’s unknown what sparked the argument — but some family members were aware of the couple’s complicated relationship. Garth’s sister told News 19 she had been trying to leave the abusive relationship, but she never thought it would get to this point.
Yarbrough is facing a capital murder charge for Garth’s death. He is being held without bond in the Limestone County Jail.
January 6 – Ray Dean King
A Hazel Green man was killed in a deputy-involved shooting on January 6.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) was responding to a domestic violence call with shots fired on Dixon Road in the dark and early morning hours of that Friday. When they arrived, deputies said they made contact with a man who was armed.
50-year-old Ray Dean King was fatally shot during that encounter. Deputies recovered King’s weapon at the scene.
Family members told News 19 that authorities went to the wrong house. They said the incident started with a female family member involved in a domestic dispute at another house nearby.
The family said that woman drove away and was then pulled over by law enforcement for speeding. They said she described the domestic dispute and deputies were dispatched to Dixon Road. But the woman did not live at the address where Ray King lived.
Bystanders tell News 19 they believe King was startled by noise outside his house and grabbed a gun.
It’s not clear how many deputies were involved, or how many shots were fired. News 19 crews at the scene saw a car window and home windows shattered, bullet holes in the side of the house, and a shattered storm door.
MCSO says the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will be leading the investigation, which is ‘standard protocol’ for officer-involved shootings.
According to the MCSO, the deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the SBI investigation.
January 8 – Kaitlyn Jenkins, Quantasia Grant
A 21st birthday celebration turned into a fatal mass shooting at Legacy Events.
Two 20-year-old women, Kaitlyn Jenkins and Quantasia Grant were found with “gunshot-related” injuries. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Nine others were injured in the incident, and authorities later revealed crime scene investigators had recovered over 200 shell casings from inside the building, in the parking lot and in the roadway.
The casings included multiple calibers of handguns and rifles.
Investigators determined there were ‘ongoing issues’ between several people at the party, which ultimately led to the shooting. MCSO said several people fired guns during the shooting and investigators are still working to identify everyone.
MCSO Sheriff Kevin Turner said two people were arrested in connection to the shooting: 20-year-old Ashton Elliot and 19-year-old DeMarcus Thompson. Both have been charged with two counts of felony reckless murder.
More arrests are expected. Anyone with information related to the shooting is asked to contact MCSO at 256-722-7181.
January 9 – Jack Edward Thompson
54-year-old Jack Edward Thompson was found dead on the front porch of his Stevenson home just before 7 p.m. on January 9.
Deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) responded to the house on County Road 147 alongside the Stevenson Police Department and the Hollywood Police Department.
Investigators say Jacob Tyler Thompson, 26, had shot his father and ran away on foot.
After searching, authorities were able to find and arrest Thompson. He was arrested and taken to the Jackson County Jail, where he remains on a $500,000 bond.
Court records show an appearance docket is scheduled for February 22, followed by a Grand Jury hearing on March 6.
January 12 – Donald Edward Goode
A domestic dispute between a father and son turned deadly on a Thursday night in Lauderdale County.
Deputies with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office went to the 3000-block of County Road 5 for the dispute and were told the son was armed with a knife.
When the first deputy arrived, he encountered 41-year-old Matthew Oneal Goode in the yard and immediately detained him.
Authorities went into the home and found 66-year-old Donald Edward Goode lying on the living room floor with an “apparent knife wound” to his neck. He was pronounced dead.
Investigators began collecting evidence and reportedly found a knife in Matthew Goode’s possession.
Goode was charged with murder and was taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Center on a $153,697 bond.
The Year Ahead
Homicide rates and crime statistics from the last three years are still being compiled, so it is unclear how this year’s crimes compare to previous years.
Just two weeks into the new year, family and friends of loved ones killed are begging for the violence to end.