Sheriff: Extradition process underway to get 1985 murder suspect back to Chambers County
Published 11:29 am Friday, January 18, 2019
LaFAYETTE — “Sweet Home Alabama” was the name of the operation that led to the arrest of a 57-year-old fugitive who was wanted for the murder of Calvin Irvin on June 22, 1985.
In an emotional news conference Friday morning at the LaFayette County Courthouse, Sheriff Sid Lockhart and District Attorney Jeremy Duerr officially announced that the process has started to bring David Anthony Pike, 57, back to Chambers County. Irvin’s sister Elaine Bailey and niece Crystal Douglas were also at the press conference.
“My office … along with the proper authorities from Puerto Rico, and Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, are about to begin the process of extradition to get Mr. Pike back to Chamber County, Alabama to answer for these charges,” Duerr said.
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Pike was arrested Thursday in Puerto Rico due to a fraudulent passport, according to a news release by U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa E.Rodríguez-Vélez.
Lockhart said Thursday that on June 22, 1985, the body of a white male was discovered on Chambers County Road 84 just outside of LaFayette. He said after the sheriff’s office responded, it was found that Irvin had been shot.
Investigators developed Pike and King Albert Mayes as suspects and murder arrest warrants were obtained. After the two men were arrested, Pike made bond, but before being indicted, he fled the area.
Mayes pleaded guilty and served out a term in prison.
“For the past 34 years, numerous investigators with the sheriff’s office, the fifth judicial circuit DA’s office, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, FBI and U.S. Marshal’s service has spent numerous man hours searching for the whereabouts of the fugitive,” Lockhart said.
Bailey and Douglas didn’t want to answer questions at the news conference but showed gratitude toward law enforcement for their work bringing Pike back to Chambers County.
“We just want to thank you guys, T.J (Major T.J. Wood with the sheriff’s office) and everybody else involved,” Douglas said. “T.J. promised he would never give up, and after 34 years, he is coming back, and he is going to answer for what he did. “
“Thank you so much,” Bailey said to the officials in Puerto Rico, who made the arrest.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico office, Pike was claiming to be an individual named Stephen Williams Varner. A criminal complaint was filed in San Juan Puerto Rico by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin against Pike — as Varner — charging him with willingly and knowingly making false statements in a passport renewal application.
Due to inconsistencies in the renewal form, the case was referred by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to the Diplomatic Security Service for investigation on Dec. 31. A death record was also found for Varner at 22 years old in Alabama.
The investigation by the security service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General confirmed the person impersonating Varner was Pike, and that he was a wanted fugitive on murder charges in Chambers County.
After receiving the news Thursday, Douglas said seeing Pike arrested was something the family had almost given up hope.
“That call, and to see him in handcuffs was the greatest feeling,” she said.
Douglas said her uncle’s death was hard on her family, and even though she was a little girl, the impact on her family was noticeable on her grandmother, mother and aunts and uncles.
“Being able to tell (my mom on Thursday) that he was arrested was one of the most amazing things I have ever been able to do,” she said.
Once Pike is brought back to the states and begins the criminal process, Douglas said her family will be involved in the process every step of the way. Even more so, she said she can’t wait to look Pike in the eyes.
“I will have my uncle’s picture and my grandmother’s picture, and he will see their faces on those photographs,” she said Thursday. “He will see my face, and he will see my mother’s face and he will see my aunt’s face.”