Murder, kidnapping suspect in custody

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2001

A Georgiana man is in custody, facing possible charges for murder and first degree kidnapping, from an incident that began early Friday night, and lasted until nearly dark on Saturday.

According to District Attorney John Andrews, Joey Nichols, 25, of the Friendship community near Georgiana is currently being held without bond on domestic violence charges, and a warrant for a probation violation.

"A warrant had been signed on Oct. 31 by Shonda McIntyre of McKenzie, charging Nichols with domestic violence," Andrews said. "Nichols remained at-large, hiding out at various places and eluding capture. But he then called McIntyre at work in Andalusia on Friday night, and told her he needed to talk with her. When she said she had nothing to say to him, he told her that yes, she did, because he had her four-year-old daughter with him."

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Andrews said the Butler County Sheriff's Office was called out by some coon hunters in the area of the "Tram Road" in Georgiana, after they located an abandoned car.

"The hunters found a car belonging to Sebastian Booker, 25, the father of the four-year-old girl," Andrews said. "Chief Deputy Kenny Harden responded to the scene, and around 3 a.m. on Saturday he called me out to the location n they discovered the body of Booker some 50 yards from his vehicle, shot dead from a single chest shot from a shotgun."

Deputies and McKenzie police officers, fearing Nichols would return to the residence of McIntyre in McKenzie, posted guard at her house on North Garland Road, where they stood watch all night and the next day, while a massive manhunt was launched on the rural roads surrounding Georgiana and McKenzie.

Units from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI), surrounding county sheriffs and state troopers were all called in to assist, and the trooper helicopter also responded to assist in the search.

"At approximately 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Nichols came walking up the driveway of his grandfather's house in Friendship," Andrews said. "The four-year-old girl was with him."

Nichols was quickly taken into custody, and the girl was taken back to McKenzie by deputies where she was reunited with her mother.

"It did not appear that the girl had been harmed," Andrews said.

Andrews said he wanted to commend the law enforcement officers involved in the case.

"The deputies of the Butler County Sheriff's Office and the officers of the McKenzie Police Department really came through in the performance of their duties," Andrews said. "Most of them had worked all day Friday when they were called back out Friday night, and stayed with it, without rest or breaks until the girl was returned to her mother."

Nichols, convicted of manslaughter in the death of his mother-in-law, had served one year in prison on a split sentence, where he was given 15 years, split.

Andrews said Nichols was brought before Circuit Judge Ed McFerrin on Tuesday, and ordered held without bond on the domestic violence warrant, and on the warrant issued by the state for probation violation.

"He should have a hearing on Friday for probation revocation," Andrews said on Tuesday evening. "The investigation of Booker's death is continuing, and further charges may soon be made."