Arrest made in 2007 murder of Jasper woman
by James Phillips
May 17, 2011 | 12016 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair announced Saturday that an arrest had been made in an area cold case. Adair released further information Monday morning, revealing that a Jasper man has been charged with the 2007 murder of his girlfriend, Essence Duncan.

Duncan, a mother of three, was reported missing on Nov. 27, 2007. Three weeks after her disappearance, her body was found floating in the Walker County Lake. At that time, local police turned the missing person’s case into a homicide investigation.

Charles Ronez Dean, 37, was indicted by a Walker County grand jury on Thursday, and investigators with the Walker County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Marshals Service tracked him down Friday at a residence in Montgomery and arrested him on the murder charge.

Dean is now being held in the Walker County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

Dean was Duncan’s live-in boyfriend and the couple had one child together, Adair said. Officials believe money and jealousy motivated the murder.

Adair said his office and the Jasper Police Department obtained a court order Monday to take oral swabs and blood samples to obtain DNA evidence from Dean.

Adair said DA investigators John Softley and Frank Cole were assigned the case in January.

“Solving many of these cold cases has been and continues to be an ongoing effort in our office,” Adair said. “This was one of the first cases I put the guys on, and they’ve worked tirelessly to solve it. It was just a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Jasper Police Chief Danny Patton said the cooperation between the District Attorney’s Office, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, and his department was key in Dean’s arrest.

“We all had information, and we worked together to solve this crime,” he said. “John and Frank have done an outstanding job of bringing all the information together to make this happen. This is a crime that I’m happy to see solved, because this young lady was a mother, a sister and daughter — this is justice for her and for her family.”

Cole said he was thankful Adair has been proactive on cases.

“Bill Adair has turned us loose on these cases,” he said. “He’s been right there with John and I, working long hours, to solve this case and others. He’s there whenever we need him, and the same can be said for Sheriff John Mark Tirey and Chief Patton. Anything we’ve asked from them, they have always been right there to provide it.”

A trial in the case is expected in seven to eight months, Adair said.

“We want to get these kinds of crimes to trial as quickly as possible,” he said. “We want these families to be able to get some type of closure, and that can only happen once justice has been provided for their loved ones.”