A Cullman County man is facing 2 murder charges and an attempted murder charge after a violent Monday evening incident in the Prospect community that left two people dead and third hospitalized.
Matthew LeWayne Clayton, 30, of the Prospect Mountain community is being held at the Cullman County Detention Center with no bond, according to the Cullman County Sheriff's Office, which held a press conference Tuesday confirming the identities of the suspect and victims.
Clayton is charged with the murder of Thomas Frank DeWille, 76, of Owens Cross Roads, and Rollan Frank Edwards, 75, of the Prospect Mountain area, as well as the attempted murder of Jody Jay Tudor, 48, also of Prospect Mountain. Sheriff Matt Gentry said Tuesday that Tudor remains in intensive care at a North Alabama hospital.
Gentry said investigators discovered both knife and gunshot wounds on the victims. The 911 call reporting the incident came across at approximately 5:30 p.m. Monday, and Gentry praised law enforcement and emergency response units for their rapid arrival at the scene.
“One of the things I noticed yesterday, and over the last 20 years of [being in] law enforcement, is how the first responders who arrive on the scene run in without fear,” he said.
“Within an hour of getting the 911 call, we were actively tracking; actively working with Alabama state troopers and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office to locate this suspect — and within an hour, they had him.”
Clayton was apprehended near Interstate 65 in Limestone County after wrecking his vehicle. Gentry said he is the lone suspect in the case, and that Monday’s isolated incident, which occurred at a residence along County Road 223, poses no additional threat to the community. He declined to offer a specific motive as the investigation unfolds, but said the violence appears to stem from a lingering interpersonal issue involving the suspect and victims.
“We do know that the individuals were known to each other,” he said. “The motive…was something that happened in the past. We’re still working with investigators to determine it.”
Gentry said that all three victims lived together at the residence, and that Clayton lived at a separate residence nearby. Monday’s violent incident and heavy law enforcement presence has rattled the Prospect community, but Gentry praised local residents for cooperating with investigators and closing ranks to support one another.
“It’s a very good community. They’re very strong and community-oriented…so for them, it’s a shock,” he said. “This is something that, for us, is an isolated incident; it’s specific to these individuals. But this is not who our community is. Like all the communities in Cullman County, they’re very strong-knit.”