Archived Story

Camp Hill murder case to be featured on TNT’s ‘Cold Justice’

Published 1:36am Thursday, January 9, 2014

With the help of three well-known cold case investigators, Camp Hill Police Chief Roosevelt Finley and his investigators finally identified a suspect in the brutal 2005 murder of 78-year-old Willie Louise Kellum.

And later this month, viewers of the TNT network’s Cold Justice can watch the successful investigation take shape. The Kellum case will be featured on Cold Justice at 8 p.m. Jan. 24.

“Lord knows Mrs. Kellum was very precious to me and to the whole community,” Finley said Wednesday. “She was a sweet lady that didn’t deserve what happened to her, to be killed in the fashion she was killed. It was just awful. It was very important to me to find a resolution in this case.”

Finley said Cold Justice’s producers had forms at a police chief’s conference where cold cases could be suggested. The Kellum case was at the top of his list, so he submitted it.

Late last summer, he heard back, and former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigation specialist Yolanda McCleary — the show’s stars — rolled into Camp Hill with cameras in tow to re-investigate the case with Finley and Camp Hill Lt. Nathan White.

“We went through the entire case, with the TV crew following us through,” Finley said.

McClearly was especially helpful, and was able to process DNA found among the evidence to “develop a whole new perspective on how to develop the case.”

McClearly was the real-life inspiration for the character played by Marg Helgenberger on the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Finley said. Siegler is a veteran prosecutor with 20 years of experience prosecuting crimes in Houston. Finley said they were also assisted by veteran homicide investigator D.D. Shirley

McCleary’s analysis of the DNA evidence led to the identification of 33-year-old Markis Heard as the prime suspect in the murder. Heard was already incarcerated at the Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery County on a first-degree sexual abuse charge, Finley said. The 5th Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Camp Hill Police and Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department is currently working through the investigation to prepare for prosecution on the murder charge.

Heard, who Finley describes on the show as “a monster among us,” is serving a 15-year sentence for the first-degree sexual assault of his own child.

Kellum enjoyed being surrounded by her friends and extended family when she attended the United Methodist Church each Sunday.

Even at age 78, Louise was known for her high energy and dry wit. She worked long after she could have retired, working as a cook at the Head Start Program for more than 40 years.

Louise’s passion for working with children was a perfect fit for the Head Start’s mission serving low-income families in the region.

On her final morning, she ran errands and stopped for groceries. The grocery store was the last place she was seen alive.

That evening her grandson, who was living with her, found Louise lying unconscious in his room and he called 911.

When Camp Hill Police arrived at her home, they found Louise with a cord wrapped around her neck and she had bruises all over her body. The murder shook the entire community.

Finley said he’s seen the episode, and believes area residents will be impressed with the investigative techniques portrayed.

“It gives the community an opportunity to see how complicated these cases can be, what we have to go through to get these cases solved,” he said. “I think it will open their eyes about how science has evolved to help us do our jobs better.”

Dean Bonner contributed to this article.