After guilty verdict, Sheriff Chuck Phillips, former chief investigator, weighs in on Barry Whitton case

Northeast Alabama
Barry Whitton, wearing blue, heads into court with his lawyers

Barry Whitton, wearing blue, heads into court with his lawyers

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — A sentencing hearing for Barry Whitton is set for October 15th and nearly 18 years after the case initially started, investigators who worked it say the verdict is one the evidence pointed to all those years ago.

Last week Whitton was found guilty of his wife Michelle’s 1997 murder.

Jackson County Sheriff Chuck Phillips had a different title back in December, 1997, when Michelle Whitton was reported missing. “Back then I was chief investigator,” Sheriff Phillips said.

He became involved with the case on the first day, when Barry Whitton came to Michelle’s mother’s home and said his wife had gone to get breakfast and never returned.

“Initially we just thought it was a normal missing persons issue,” Sheriff Phillips said of the time. But, that changed.

“When we found her car, we knew it was a little worse than just a missing person at that point,” Sheriff Phillips said. They found her car several days after she had been missing, abandoned.

Michelle’s body was found weeks later in DeKalb County, buried in a shallow grave.

Investigators worked hours on the intricate case following leads and piecing together information.

The Alabama Attorney General’s office assisted, eventually bringing the case to trial.

Now, Michelle’s husband Barry Whitton is found guilty of her murder nearly 18 years later.

“We’ve all known that he was guilty all of these years, it’s just a matter of getting in the courtroom, and proving it,” Sheriff Phillips said, “Now that that was done, I was extremely happy.”

Phillips says throughout the investigation, the evidence pointed to Whitton.

“We got the right person,” Sheriff Phillips said, “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

The investigation into Whitton’s second wife and step daughter is still ongoing. They disappeared in the summer of 2007 and Whitton is suspected in their disappearance.

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