Alabama sheriff: Woman’s jealousy was motive for kidnapping, murder

Local News

Investigators say the suspected mastermind is 30-year-old Demetria Johnson, who investigators say recruited 40-year-old Shaun Johnson and 30-year-old Joshua Tolbert of Columbus, Georgia along with 33-year-old Jayvonn Phillips of Seale, Alabama to help her.

RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – An Alabama sheriff says a woman charged in the kidnapping and murder of a 39-year-old Georgia woman was jealous that the victim was dating the father of her children.

The information comes as investigators release chilling new details in the death of 39-year old Tameka Skinner, whose body was found in Alabama hours after she was kidnapped Monday from the parking lot of a Georgia apartment complex.

Victim: Tameka Skinner

“Seems to be an old fashioned jealously deal,” Russell County Sheriff Health Taylor told sister station WRBL.

Four suspects have been charged with capital murder after Skinner was found shot to death. Investigators say the suspected mastermind is 30-year-old Demetria Johnson, who allegedly recruited 40-year-old Shaun Johnson and 30-year-old Joshua Tolbert, all from Columbus, Georgia, as well as 33-year-old Jayvonn Phillips, from Seale, Alabama.

“Tameka was dating Demetria’s ex-boyfriend, father of her two children, and she wanted her out of the picture,” said Taylor.

Investigators identified her ex-boyfriend as Martea Pettway.

“Apparently Tameka had been questioning her parenting skills, or they had some issues in the past,” Taylor said. “Demetria just wanted her out of the way and not dating her ex. So, Demetria recruited the three guys to help her kidnap and take her over to Russell County and kill her.”

Detectives say Skinner and Pettway were assaulted around 1:00 a.m. Monday at the Huckleberry Hill Apartment complex in Columbus, Georiga. Investigators say Pettway suffered injuries in the assault but was left at the apartment complex. Skinner was abducted, and her vehicle stolen.

“I can only assume she didn’t want to harm him because he’s the father of her children,” said Taylor.

Shortly after the alleged assault and kidnapping, investigators traced Skinner’s stolen vehicle to a location in Russell County. Investigators were on the way to locate the vehicle when they noticed another suspicious vehicle on Porter Road early Monday morning. The vehicle took off when investigators tried to make contact, and a chase ensued.

“Once the vehicle reached Wetumpka, Alabama, they wrecked, and all four individuals inside were taken into custody,” said Sheriff Taylor.

Sheriff Taylor says a handgun investigators suspect was used in the murder was recovered from the vehicle’s crash site in Wetumpka.

“I feel like I can prove who pulled the trigger, but I don’t want to release that right now. We don’t have any evidence to show she paid them anything. She just asked them (for) help, and they agreed to help,” said Taylor.

A few hours after the suspects were taken into custody, Skinner’s body was found around 11:30 Monday morning in a wooded area in Russell County. Skinner’s stolen vehicle was located just a few miles away from her body. Sheriff Taylor says the suspects tried to burn the vehicle then conceal it. Taylor said he believes Johnson had been planning the murder for a week.

“We have a couple of statements that said the intention all along was to kidnap and kill her. What boggles my mind is we have gotten to a point in our society where life has absolutely no meaning whatsoever,” said Sheriff Taylor.

Skinner’s family told WRBL they are devastated by the act of violence that stole a devoted mother from her teenage girls. Skinner enjoyed teaching dance at the Columbus church she attended. During Monday afternoon’s press conference, Sheriff Taylor made a promise to Skinner’s family.

“I spoke with the family, and I promised our office would do everything we could do get justice for Tameka,” said Sheriff Taylor.

Meanwhile, the four suspects remain behind bars at the Russell County Detention Facility. They are slated to appear in court Wednesday morning for an initial court appearance. The Russell County District Attorney’s Office said the four suspects should not be eligible for bond because they are charged with capital murder.


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