Three Hanceville residents were killed Monday night when suspects fleeing from a crime scene in a large SUV slammed into their car in Jefferson County.
The victims were identified as Amber Nicole Verus, 23, Ryan Max Culwell, 20, and their 10-month-old daughter, Rogue Marie Culwell, all of Hanceville. They were pronounced dead at the scene, said Phillip Russell, deputy coroner of Jefferson County.
By Tuesday night, authorities in Birmingham had captured three suspects in connection with the family's death and a robbery in Cordova.
The wreck occurred Monday night in west Birmingham, authorities reported, when the fleeing suspects’ white SUV reportedly ran a red light and crashed into the vehicle occupied by the young Hanceville family.
A manhunt for the suspects ensued after the crash. The first suspect was captured by authorities in the Birmingham area before sundown. The 20-year-old man was arrested and admitted to a hospital for injuries that authorities believe were related to the wreck. Two others were found later at a house in Birmingham.
The suspects were fleeing from the scene of a robbery in Cordova in neighboring Walker County.
Cordova Police Chief Kenneth Bobo said two men in a white SUV pulled up at the driveway of a 77-year-old man who had just arrived home with his wife.
“The man was moving his garbage can when the suspects pulled up and demanded his wallet. He apparently hesitated to turn it over and one of the suspects pulled a pistol and struck him on the head and took his wallet. They then approached his wife, who was still sitting in the car, and demanded money from her purse. She told them she didn’t have any money and they left the area at a high rate of speed,” Bobo said.
Cordova police received a call from the elderly couple’s neighbor at 7:12 p.m. and an alert was sent out to law enforcement agencies across the region. Dora police spotted the suspects’ vehicle and gave chase until nearing the Jefferson County line, at which time deputies in Jefferson County picked up the chase, Bobo said.
“They apparently lost sight of them and then the report of the collision came in,” Bobo said. “The second suspect was still being sought, but I understand police had surrounded a house in the Mulga community of Birmingham. The suspects will be charged in Cordova for the assault and robbery of the man here, and I’m sure Dora will have charges, as well as what charges are made in Jefferson County related to the family’s death.”
Hanceville Police Chief Bob Long said the family lived just outside of Hanceville behind Wallace State Community College.
Bobo said the man who was struck in the head with the pistol has been released from a hospital, and that five staples were needed to close the wound to his head.
He also said the wallet taken from the man was recovered in Dora when the suspects reportedly threw it out during the chase.
Police have little to go on as far as a physical description thus far, other than they are looking for two black males.
Investigators in Birmingham were conducting tests to determine the rate of speed of the white SUV when it collided with the Hanceville family’s vehicle. The deputy coroner said investigators already know the SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed, but the tests will tell more at a later date.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Alabama 269 and Minor Parkway, about a half mile northwest of the former Ensley Works steel mill site. The father was in the front passenger seat of the car, while the child was in a safety seat in the back.
* David Palmer may be contacted at email@example.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.
* Robert Carter of the North Jefferson News contributed to this report.