UPDATE: U.S. MARSHAL’S TOOK SUSPECT BURTON DUNN INTO CUSTODY EARLIER TODAY, JULY 6. He is being held with no bond on a charge of Capital Murder.
BY SARAH STEPHENS
Photos submitted by family members.
It isn’t unusual for a murder investigation to take time. There are a lot of questions that have to be answered, evidence to document, witnesses to speak to. There are important pieces of a murder investigation that shouldn’t be released to the media, as it could impact a court case.
However, in the case of 27-year-old Ke’Aira Battle’s murder, a lot of that was covered within 12 hours of her body being found in the parking lot of the Elmore Community Hospital June 19.
According to the Wetumpka Police Department, they can prove when and where Ke’Aira was shot in Montgomery.
Wetumpka received the initial call of a person in the hospital parking lot around 5 a.m. June 19. Major Crimes Investigators immediately began investigating and within 12 hours they learned that the death had taken place in Montgomery, not Elmore County, and it became a jurisdictional issue. Contact was made through multiple phone calls and/or texts to various officials at the Montgomery Police Department, according to Wetumpka Chief Greg Benton. In all cases, he said no help was offered.
This occurred as a suspect had been located by Wetumpka PD, but without a warrant from Montgomery to hold him, he had to be released. This part is what is causing a lot of emotional issues for family, friends and the general public.
When the Elmore/Autauga News and Wetumpka Herald were invited by Wetumpka PD to attend a press conference just days after the murder, we both released information about Benton’s claim that Montgomery would not help. Soon after, meetings between multiple agencies from both counties were held.
It included the District Attorneys from Elmore and Autauga counties, as well as the Chiefs from Montgomery and Wetumpka. The District Attorneys then made a joint press release that the two counties would work together to solve Ke’Aira’s murder. The problem of jurisdictional issues was apparently solved. There was a known suspect in the shooting, and known suspects of those who left Ke’Aira’s body in the hospital parking lot.
According to family members who have spoken with Montgomery officials, they were told that the investigation is ongoing, but there is a now a problem locating the suspects. As of this writing, there has been no official release from either agency naming suspects in the case, or requesting information on their location. This is where using CrimeStoppers of Central Alabama could perhaps be a major help in the case. Rewards are offered for information that leads to arrest in crimes.
If you have information about this case, or any information about the location of possible suspects, please contact CrimeStoppers, with or without an appeal from any agency. You can remain anonymous, and receive an award if the information leads to an arrest. Their number is 215-STOP. You can also message them on Facebook on their page Central Alabama Crimestoppers. This goes for any crime of which you have knowledge.
We have made multiple calls to the Montgomery Police Department, leaving our contact information. We have not received a call back. The agency did release a short statement to other media, saying that the death investigation continues.
So, the waiting game continues, questions go unanswered, and frustration and anger grow, family said. This is not a good combination.
Meanwhile, the family and friends of Ke’Aira have had protests on the Capitol steps of Montgomery. They are attempting to get a permit to have a similar protest in Wetumpka. They are confused and angry, they said. They are now asking hard questions, such as if Ke’Aira had been white, would the police pay more attention? They say that her suspected shooter is a white male she was familiar with, but that has not been confirmed to the EAN from Wetumpka PD or Montgomery PD. The shooting reportedly involved multiple vehicles near the Twain Curve in Montgomery in the early morning hours of June 19. Multiple shots were fired, from vehicles and people involved.
In the press conference held by WPD after Ke’Aira’s murder, Chief Benton relayed that a gun had been found near her body in the parking lot of the hospital.
We want to make it clear as the EAN, that just because there is a lack of communication, doesn’t mean the case is not being investigated. It is extremely likely that an arrest could be announced soon, and we truly hope that is the case. There could be a lot being done behind the scenes, because as we stated earlier, not everything needs to be public knowledge. When the arrests come, and we believe they will, we will be very happy to report that news.
We have been in touch with various family members and friends of Ke’Aira, and through them we were given these statements below.
“She (Ke’Aira) loved her family something serious. In one of the last face to face conversations we had together she knew she gave y’all hell most of her life but she also knew y’all loved her. She loved y’all more than anything and the same for her friends she loved like family!! I don’t understand. I need answers. The only thing that’s helping me is thinking that God needed her more than we did and because her life was so filled with love, hurt, disappointment, overcoming and how full of life in general as a person she was. Maybe He needed her more and her work here was done. I’ll never understand why though.” – Chelsey Miaoulis
“I want my daughter’s murder solved and these people off the street that had anything to do with my daughter’s murder. I need some type of closure. I have so many questions unanswered. My daughter was the most non-prejudiced person you will ever meet she did not see skin color. But I’m beginning to wonder if this white on black murder has not been solved because he is white and she is black. This will not get swept under the rug. We want arrests and we want them, now! Where is all the media coverage on her death? if she was white would be see the media coverage or is it if she was white we wouldn’t be having this discussion because the murderer would be behind bars.” –- Rosanna Battle”
“One question to be asked…Why is it when Wetumpka told Montgomery they had all the evidence, Montgomery didn’t issue a warrant immediately so that the suspect could stay detained?” – Trent Martin, Uncle.
“We just can’t fathom why nothing has been done yet or if they have done something, then let the family know so we aren’t racking our brains to figure it out instead we should be mourning.” – Joint statement from Aunt Summer Hawkins and Uncle Trent Martin.