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March 9, 2012

Local man convicted in 3-decade-old murder case in Louisiana

A Vinemont man arrested last year in Louisiana in connection with a murder case that had grown cold has been convicted of the three-decade-old crime.

A jury in Terrebonne Parish, La., found Ricky Brown, 55, guilty last month of the murder of Edith McLeroy West, a former Cullman County resident who was 23 years old at the time of  her death in 1980.

Brown was one of two men sought for decades in connection with the murder. His alleged accomplice, Mike Burnett, died in 2008. A sentencing date for Brown has not been set.

Shortly after she went missing in 1980, the victim’s naked body was discovered by fishermen at a pond near Houma, with a cinder block tied around the neck.

Difficulty in locating Brown and Burnett — both originally considered suspects in the case due to anecdote alleging their acquaintance with the victim — led to the case going unresolved for more than 30 years, until Brown, who had an outstanding warrant unrelated to the murder, was arrested in late 2010 near Falkville for a traffic violation and transferred to Cullman County. He was indicted on murder charges in February 2011.

Carol McLeroy, the victim's stepmother, traveled from Alabama with Edith's brother, Greg McLeroy, and his wife, Nancy. After the trial, Carol McLeroy thanked police for staying on the case for so many years.

"I'm very happy for them," said Nancy McLeroy, of her family. She added that she was never able to meet her sister-in-law.

Authorities allege McLeroy's death had to do with the arrest of Archie "Possum" West, who was wanted on outstanding warrants in Cullman County.

The victim and West were married, though they were separated at the time of her death. West has since died, though witnesses testified that McLeroy had told police where West lived in Westwego, La.

"She had snitched his friend Possum off," said Viki Brown, Ricky Brown's ex-wife, during the trial.

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

Click here to read the 2010 Times story.



* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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