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    Oct 2014

    AL - Paula Ellis, 18, Tuscaloosa, 21 April 1973

    Information for this unsolved homicide taken from:

    Tuscaloosa County Cold Case File: Homicide - Paula Ellis - 1973

    In the spring of 1973 an 18 year old female from Miami, Florida, Paula Ellis, was a freshman at the University of Alabama. On the night of April 21, 1973 Ellis left her residence at Martha Parham Hall and rode a bicycle to a concert being held on the University of Alabama campus. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was playing a midnight concert on Woods Quad. Before noon the following day, Easter Sunday, her body was found approximately 10 miles away. Ellis had been strangled and her body dumped from a bridge. No suspect has ever been arrested in this case.

    Not a day for a murder - April 2014

    The Ellis case is not the only murder of a University of Alabama student that remains unsolved. Ronald Perryman was shot in his home in 1976, and Chanda Fehler was found in the Black Warrior River in 1987, but some progress has been made in their cases over the years. Paula Lee’s murder, on the other hand, is no closer to being solved than it was that morning in 1973.
    According to an April 23, 1973, Crimson White article, friends of Paula Lee said she was last seen in her dorm at midnight before leaving for the rock concert at Woods Quad. Other reports vary, saying she was last seen anytime between midnight and 2 a.m. The next time someone saw her, she was lying in a ditch in Northport.

    Fields said Paula Lee’s body was taken to Strickland Hayes Funeral Home in Tuscaloosa, where an autopsy was performed by a medical examiner. Fields said the method used to kill her appeared to be a belt, and there were no signs of sexual assault.
    “The university police was working it, the Tuscaloosa police was working it, and the state was working it,” Murphy said. “The Alabama State Troopers was working it, and the Sheriff’s Office was working it, and everyone was wanting to take credit for solving it. And as a result, a lot of evidence was lost. No one wanted to tell the other agency.” When the Homicide Unit formed in the aftermath of Paula Lee’s murder, Murphy said the Sheriff’s Office never received any evidence from the other agencies investigating the case.

    “To my knowledge, we never received any records from anyone else and continued to lead the unit in that particular case, but as far as ever getting anything from another agency, I don’t know of any evidence that was recovered,” Murphy said.

    Paula Lee’s clothing, in particular, has an uncertain history. Fields said he believes Paula Lee’s pants would probably be the best candidate for modern DNA testing, but Murphy said he never found out what had happened to the clothes.
    Several suspects were investigated by law enforcement agencies over the next year, but none were ever officially charged. Wayne Murphy, a retired investigator with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, said he believes the killer is Charles Michael Brewer, a suspected serial murderer currently serving time for the 1980 murder of Lynn Holland, a 20-year-old Alberta City resident. Holland, who had multiple surgeries and wore leg braces to help her walk, was found strangled and beaten on the bank of the Sipsey River.

    Murphy was not part of the original investigation into the Ellis case in 1973, but he began working with the Homicide Unit three years later. He said Holland’s body was found in similar condition to Paula Lee’s, also without any sign of sexual assault.

    “I think everyone down there was in agreement on that, and I don’t know what their feelings are today, but we were in pretty much unanimous agreement,” Murphy said.

    Fields, who worked directly on the Ellis case, said there was never a primary suspect.

    “We never really got close to anyone that we could say was a real good suspect,” he said.
    Charles Michael Brewer v. State. Brewer is also a person of interest in the disappearance of Betty White.

    Ellis Case Frustrates Police Here - May 1973

    Coed's Death Still Baffles Investigators - July 1988

    Decades Later, Victim's Mom Vows to Keep Killer Locked Up - June 2002, more information on Brewer.

    Last edited by JusticeWillBeServed; 11-26-2015 at 12:01 PM.

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