BY SARAH STEPHENS
Today marks 10 days since Ke’Aira Battle, 27, was found deceased from gunfire in the parking lot of Elmore Community Hospital.
Ke’Aira grew up in Wetumpka, graduating from Wetumpka High School. At the time of her death, she was living in Montgomery.
The old saying that “No news is good news,” doesn’t apply here if you ask her family and friends. They want answers that so far are not coming.
Last week Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston and Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey announced that Elmore and Montgomery Police Departments would work together on the case. Evidence gathered by Wetumpka detectives shows that Ke’Aira was murdered in Montgomery, but her body transported to Elmore County. Because the body was moved and left in the parking lot of Elmore Community Hospital, it brought up jurisdictional line issues, officials said.
Just after 5 a.m. June 19, Wetumpka officers responded to the hospital after a report of a body in the parking lot near the cafeteria.
Within 12 hours, Ke’Aira had been identified, as well as a suspect in her death identified, thanks to work by Wetumpka Police Department investigators. The suspect was in custody but not under arrest, as Wetumpka detectives learned through their investigation that the murder occurred outside of their jurisdiction. They were in touch with Montgomery officials, wanting to share evidence, and obtain warrants for the suspect in custody so he could be arrested and held.
That is where “miscommunication” occurred. No details have surfaced as to what that miscommunication was, but it is known it apparently involved multiple phone calls from Wetumpka Police to Montgomery officials, who Benton initially said refused to take on the murder case.
Wetumpka officials were forced to release the suspect.
That prompted a press conference held by the Wetumpka Police Department a few days after Ke’Aira was murdered, where WPD officials and detectives shared frustration with Montgomery Police Department’s apparent refusal to take on the murder investigation. Family members of Ke’Aira were also invited to the press conference, so that Wetumpka officials could explain their hands were tied because of jurisdictional issues.
Wetumpka officials stressed in the press conference that had the murder occurred in their jurisdiction, the suspect would be under arrest.
So now, 10 days later, Wetumpka PD says they have no new information since the two departments agreed to work together. We checked with Elmore DA Houston, and he also says he has not received any new information.
Family members say they have been in touch with Montgomery investigators but were told there are no updates. The Elmore/Autauga News reached out to the Montgomery Police Department last week, and have not heard from them. We will update if that changes, and they have information to share.
At this point the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, does not appear to be in custody. It begs questions for which we do not have answers. Such as is this suspect still in the area? Do Montgomery officials know his location? Has an independent investigation by Montgomery ruled out this suspect due to new evidence?
Family and friends of Ke’Aira had a small gathering downtown in Montgomery Sunday, asking for answers and to bring awareness to her case. A similar gathering will be held on the Alabama State Capitol Steps Wednesday at 4 p.m. for those wishing to show support to the Battle family and extended family and friends.
Until then, we wait. No news is not good news for a family wanting justice. See more photos submitted by family members of Ke’Aira below.