“Seeing those victims, that is incentive to work day and night to find out who was responsible for what happened to them,” Cole said. “There were several that we didn’t solve, and those still bother me, but for the most part, we’ve been able to solve most of the major crimes that happen here.”
Cole, who retired from the Walker County District Attorney’s Office last week, wouldn’t take credit for solving any crimes. He said it was always a team effort.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people,” Cole said. “I’ve had some great partners. We’ve always worked together to solve crimes. I just tried to do my part.”
Cole started his career in Walker County after moving from New York City in the early 1970s. He worked as the police chief in Sumiton and Oakman before moving to the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.
While at the sheriff’s office, Cole was partnered with current Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey. Cole said the two worked together for around six years.
“Frank Cole was a great partner,” Tirey said. “He is just an outstanding investigator. We worked many years together and built a great friendship. He is someone that I will be friends with for the rest of my life.”
Cole left the sheriff’s office to become an investigator at the DA’s office under former District Attorney Charles Baker. For the past 13 years, Cole has worked side-by-side with John Softley. Cole said the two have become like brothers.
“John Softley is a great partner,” Cole said. “We know exactly what each other are going to do when we are on a crime scene.”
The duo uses the motto of “We go together. We leave together,” Cole said.
“We have lived by that,” he said. “I know he is there for me, and he knows I am there for him.”
Softley said the motto is a perfect fit for their partnership.
“We’ve worked a lot of cases together, and we’ve always been there for each other,” Softley said. “I hate to see Frank retire. He’s my partner and he will always be my partner. I’ve learned a lot from Frank Cole over the years.”
Along with building relationships with his partners and co-workers, Cole said he will most cherish the relationships that he has built with the citizens of Walker County.
“The people of this county have been so good to me over all these years,” he said. “If it weren’t for the people who talk to us and help us out, we wouldn’t be able to solve half the crimes that we solve. I’ve made a lot of friends over my 40 years here, and I appreciate each and every person who has been there for me.”
Despite retiring, Cole said he will continue to work some part-time hours for District Attorney Bill Adair.
“We’ve got a few cases out there that I am going to keep working on, and they know I’m here any time they need me in the future,” Cole said. “Bill Adair is doing a great job as district attorney, and I’m happy to keep helping out.”
Cole said his heart will always go out to the victims of the more than 150 homicides that he has worked.
“No one knows what the families have to go through,” he said. “The victim’s family, as well as the family of the person who committed the crime, suffer relentlessly. I hope that I’ve been able to help all of them that I have come into contact with. If I have helped in at least some small way, I feel like I’ve had a successful career.”