Meridian Star

October 18, 2013

Charge upgraded in skeletons’ case

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said Thursday morning the charges against Carl Wesley Bell in the homicide case in which the skeletal remains of two people were found on Espey Road last week have been upgraded to murder.

    Sollie said new information gathered during investigation of the deaths of Algene Grant and Aketi Sims Washington led to the murder charge against Bell, who was originally charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder.

    "The investigators in this case continue to get more and more information, as I've said before, with the help from the community," Sollie said. "Based on this new information, we have determined Bell's actions warrant these charges."

    Bell is now charged with two counts of murder in addition to a previous charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Sollie said Bell is still being held in the Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility in Meridian on a $500,000 bond on each of the murder charges.

    The bond for Connie T. McAllister, who was arrested earlier this week and charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of murder in the case, will be lowered, Sollie said.

    "Whereas we believe Bell's role was much more substantial, we also believe that McAllister's role was not as involved as first thought," Sollie said. "So given that new development we requested the judge lower her bond amount."

    Sollie said Thursday he did not know by how much the bond for McAllister would be lowered. Initially, McAllister was placed on $100,000 bond for each of the two charges.

    Sollie said Bell and Grant knew each other; that Bell's home sits in front of the mobile home Grant was renting from Bell located at 7643-A Espey Road.     

    Investigators were searching for Grant last week for failing to register as a convicted sex offender when they discovered what Sollie described at the time as a violent crime scene inside the double wide mobile home in which Grant lived. Investigators and deputies looking for more clues outside the home and the surrounding area found a shallow grave in the woods behind the location. The remains of Grant and Washington were lying end to end in the grave that was partially covered with old tires and bricks.

    According to the Sex Offender Registry, Grant was convicted on June 29, 1966 for rape in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Sollie said Grant hadn't registered with his office, as per state law, since June of this year.

    Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said he estimated the bodies had been buried in the shallow grave since May of this year.

    Sollie said McAllister was picked up Monday by investigators who were acting off information provided by members of the community.