- Cullman, Alabama

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December 21, 2012

More information released on Winston Co. murder investigation

Authorities continue to investigate a murder based in the small Helicon community of Winston County,  and the victim’s autopsy reveals more details of exactly what happened the night of Dec. 12.

Deputies arrested Winston County resident Varney Calloway, 54, for the murder of Jackie Ray Wright, 60, last week. He is currently being held at the Winston County jail on a murder charge and $1 million cash bond.

The state notes for Wright’s autopsy were released earlier this week, and Sheriff Rick Harris said it confirmed that Wright was shot twice with a .44 “Bulldog” Special handgun. One bullet grazed the victim’s head, while the fatal shot came to his chest. The report also notes he was beaten before being shot.

Authorities believe the two men had an altercation on the night of Dec. 12 in an area just off Winston County Road 40, which allegedly ended with Calloway shooting Wright. The body was recovered in some underbrush, and authorities say evidence at the scene led to Calloway.

Investigators were just recently able to search Calloway’s truck, which had been impounded by the state, and Harris said they are still trying to determine the exact motive. As more information comes to light, Harris said more charges could be added.

“We’re following up some leads and the investigation is continuing,” he said.

Though the victim weighed over 300 pounds and the body was moved into the underbrush, Harris said investigators still believe Calloway acted alone and could have moved the body by himself.

“He was using a small truck that was just about two feet off the ground, by the time you lower the tailgate, and the scene was on an incline,” he said. “The suspect himself is a pretty strong individual and there is no indication he had an accomplice.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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