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June 15, 2006

Four arrested in murder

Three county residents among those charged in Blount County

Three Cullman County residents and a Blount County woman have been charged with capital murder in the death of a Blount County man.

Macie Hallman Jr., 30, and Betty Leann Ratliff, 37, both of County Road 234 in the Misty Harbor community near Smith Lake, were being held in the Blount County Jail in Oneonta Thursday under no bond.

Also being held without bond by Blount County authorities is Joseph Anthony Murphey, 35, of Cullman.

A fourth suspect, Marion Lynn Bailey, 27, formerly of Blount County, remained in the Cullman County Detention Center Thursday where she was being held on an unrelated federal charge, authorities said.

Hallman and Ratliff were reportedly arrested at their residence by Cullman County Sheriff's investigators around 5:32 p.m. Wednesday. Murphey was reportedly arrested at another location in the county later Wednesday night.

According to Blount County Sheriff's Investigator Terry Sherbert, his office was notified of a death in the Remlap community of Blount County on Monday. The body of James Dixon Hendon, 70, was found in his home on Valley View Lane about 11 p.m. A relative had reportedly stopped by to check on Hendon and found him, authorities said.

Sherbert would not confirm or deny whether the case is being investigated as a robbery/homicide, nor would he speculate on the cause of death.

"We're still awaiting forensic results as to the time and cause of death," Sherbert said. "We have no preliminary cause of death at this time. About all I can say is that the investigation is continuing."

Blount County Sheriff Danny Morton said Thursday the homicide is Blount County's first of the year "and I hope it is the last."

"I was extremely pleased with how quickly the suspects in this case were rounded up," Morton said. "The Cullman County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Tyler Roden did an outstanding job of working with us to make certain we found the people we were looking for."

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