MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Governor Kay Ivey has spoken out about a parole decision for the woman responsible for a 13-year-old’s death in 1982.
Judith Ann Neelley is eligible for parole on May 25. She has been in prison for nearly 35 years after being convicted for the murder of Lisa Ann Millican, a 13-year-old Georgia teenager.
“Please do not grant parole to Judith Ann Neelley. Five years ago, I made that same request of this Board, and your predecessors unanimously denied parole after less than one of minute of deliberation,” wrote Governor Ivey to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. “Although each of you has joined the Board since Ms. Neelley’s last parole hearing, nothing has changed since then that would support a different result today: Quite simply, Ms. Neelley should not be allowed to set foot outside of an Alabama prison.”
Neelley and her husband Alvin, who died in 2005, abducted Millican from a shopping mall in Georgia in 1982. The young girl was sexually assaulted and injected with drain cleaner before being fatally shot. Authorities found her body in Little River Canyon in Fort Payne.
According to the Times-Journal, Judith later testified that she and her husband had been combing the streets for a week trying to pick up a young girl when she picked Millican.
Throughout her time in captivity with the Neelleys, the DeKalb County paper said Lisa was molested by both of them, adding that Judith even injected her with Drano.
The morning after abducting Lisa, the Neelleys picked up their two-year-old twins (Judith was pregnant with their third) before driving to the Five Points Inn in Scottsboro. Over the next two days, when Alvin wasn’t repeatedly raping Lisa, Judith was beating her. Otherwise, the 13-year-old was handcuffed and forced to stay in the bathroom.
According to the Times-Journal, the Neelleys left to find a secluded area to kill and dump Lisa before ending up at Little River Canyon in DeKalb County.
“Judith walked the girl to the cliff and in a span of about 30 torturous minutes, injected her a total of six times with caustic drain cleaner while she begged for her life,” the paper wrote. “Judith grew tired of the drain cleaner’s slow effect, so she shot the child in the back and pushed her body over the edge. The Neeleys then drove to Gadsden to sit down for breakfast.”
Millican would not be the couple’s only murder.
Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather across North Alabama and southern Tennessee. Download the WHNT News 19 App and be sure to turn on push alerts.
In 1983, Judith pleaded guilty in a Georgia courtroom to kidnapping and murdering 23-year-old Janice Chatman, along with shooting Chatman’s fiance John Hancock in early October 1982.
Neelley was sentenced to life in exchange for testifying against her husband, who was also on trial for Chatman’s murder. Because of her plea and sentence agreement, if Neelley were ever released in Alabama, she would immediately be transferred to Georgia to carry out that sentence
Alvin Neelley, to avoid the death penalty, pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated assault in Georgia. He was never tried for Millican’s murder but was sentenced to life and died in the Bostick State Prison while serving that sentence in 2005.
Originally, Neelley was sentenced to death by the electric chair. In 1999, Neelley’s death sentence was commuted to life by then-Governor Fob James, setting the stage for her eventual parole eligibility, a decision that Governor Ivey calls a mistake.
“I believe it was a mistake for Governor James to commute Ms. Neelley’s death sentence in the first place – and certainly to do so in the way that allows Ms. Neelley the possibility of parole,” said Governor Ivey. “Now, every five years, the wounds of these families are reopened as they wait with bated breath for your decision.”
This is not the first time Governor Ivey has called for Neelley’s parole to be denied. In 2018, she penned a similar letter to the parole board urging them to strike down Neelley’s possibility of parole. In just less than a minute, the board unanimously voted to not allow parole.
Ivey is not the only official to speak out on the upcoming decision. In a video statement, Clayton M. Fuller, the District Attorney in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, spoke out on May 19 opposing the parole option.
Neelley’s parole decision will be ruled on by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles on Thursday. If denied, Neelley would be up for parole once again in 2028.