Unsolved murder case solved after 23 years
Fri, 27 Jun 2008 22:57:44 GMT —
It's like a story out of the CBS drama 'Cold Case.'
After re-opening an unsolved murder investigation a few years ago, Adams County authorities have found the killer and victim's identities from a 23 year-old murder.
Back in 1985, folks called the victim "Marvin the Mummy," due to the decomposed state of the man's body when he was found in a rock quarry west of Lima.
No one ever knew the story behind his death or even his identity. Now we do. Officials say Wallace Daniel Spence admitted killing the man found in the Tri-States so many years ago. He's being held in the state of Mississippi on other crimes right now. But now he faces murder charges.
Back in April of 1985, a local resident was walking here through the Western Illinois Stone company quarry when he discovered a body in these bushes.
According to autopsy reports, the body had been decomposing for 4 months. The death was ruled a homicide...and remained the unsolved mystery of this quarry for 23 years, until now.
Just three years ago the Adams County Sheriff's Department dug out this unsolved case file and began digging in again.
What made Adams County Dig this out after 20 years?
Adams County Sheriff Brent Fischer said, "It's not something law enforcement likes to have standing for this long period of time. Yeah it seems like a cold case file but there were a lot of things done throughout the process to help bring it to a wrap."
Then officials got a break in the case of the murder in the quarry. This man Wallace Daniel Spence was arrested in Alcorn County Mississippi on a forgery charge. After an investigation and interviews by Adams County Sheriff's Deputies, officials found Spence was connected to the murder of the unidentified man....now known to be 26 year-old Thomas William Brannon.
Officials believe it all began in Florida with both men having a criminal history. At some point during a road trip across country, Spence killed Brannon and then dumped his body here in the quarry. Officials do not believe the murder happened in Adams County or Illinois.
How was he identified?
Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard said, "Fingerprints. Those prints of Brannon weren't in the AFIS system, they were in the jurisdiction where he had been arrested in the State of Florida. That is where the investigation led the Adams County Sheriff's Department that ultimately identified Brannon as the victim."
Even more twisted, officials say after Spence killed Brannon, he assumed his identity for many years, marrying his wife and even entering a Mississippi prison under his victim's name.
Have you seen anything like this?
Sheriff Brent Fischer said, "We have seen some cases, but this in particular, it looked like it may not be solved. To have this come about feels good."
Now that officials say the case is solved, Spence will be on his way back to Adams County to face crimes he committed when he was a much younger man...and a family can move on knowing the true fate of their son.
Right now, Adams County Sheriff's Officials and States Attorney Jon Barnard are working with the United States Attorney's office to assess whether or not federal charges against Spence can be filed.
Spence has already been charged with Concealment of a Homicidal Death.
Officials are also doing their best to contact family members of Brannon to let them know about his death.