Ozark P.D. has suspect

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 1999

in teen murder case

By MICHELLE J. WILSON

Staff Writer

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Published Aug. 25, 1999

The Ozark Police Department has a suspect in the murder of two Dothan girls.

Ozark Police Chief Tony R. Spivey would not comment further on the investigation.

While police have a suspect in the murders of Tracie Jean Hawlett and J.B. Hilton Beasley, they haven’t ruled out other potential suspects.

The 17-year-old Northview High School seniors were found shot to death in the trunk of Beasley’s 1994 black Mazda 929 on the afternoon of Aug. 1.

Beasley was the daughter of Lanier Beasley, who owns Ed’s Barber and Style Shop in downtown Troy.

FBI agents were in Ozark last week to develop a criminal investigative analysis on a possible suspect, according to the "Dothan Eagle." An analysis can help police paint a portrait of a suspect, narrow the scope of the investigation or confirm they are looking in the right direction.

The report has not yet been given to the Ozark Police Department.

According to police reports, each girl had been shot once in the head. The car was found abandoned on Herring Avenue in Ozark, near the city’s police department.

Police are entering the third week of investigating the case.

Calls coming into the 24-hour hotline and through Crime Stoppers have helped police piece together some information received.

Spivey said it is extremely important for the public to come forward with any information that could be useful. Police are dealing with more than a 14-hour gap in the time girls were last seen at an Ozark store until their bodies were found around 1 p.m. Aug. 1.

They ask anyone with information about the crimes to call the 24-hour hotline at 1-888-538-3555, Ozark police at 334-774-5111 or Dale County Crime Stoppers at 334-774-999. Some $35,000 in rewards is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murders. Calls to the police will be kept confidential.

The girls were last seen at a Big/Little Store in Ozark around 11:30 p.m. on July 31, witnesses said.

Earlier that night, Hawlett left work shortly after 9 p.m. She and Beasley planned to attend a field party in Haleburg, but police have not confirmed they ever made it there. It was around 11:30 p.m. when two women saw the girls at the Big/Little store on East Broad Street in Ozark. The girls asked directions to U.S. Highway 231, then Hawlett telephoned her mother to say they had been lost in Ozark but were on their way home.

Police are still looking into a possible motive in the murders.

Robbery was ruled out because the girls’ purses were in the car. A preliminary autopsy showed they had not been sexually assaulted. The only known missing item is Beasley’s key chain, which contains the car’s key. It is describe as white blocks with black letters that have a heart on one and spell out "Hard2Get."