Police arrest Madison woman for arranging Hartselle murder
HARTSELLE – Hartselle police say a Madison woman arranged the slaying of the father of their child, and she is one of four people charged in his July 24 shooting death that was Hartselle’s first homicide since 2006.
Jaclyn Elaine Skuce, 38, of 3109 Lakeland Drive, was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminal solicitation to commit capital murder in the death of Anthony Larry Sheppard, 41, who was found shot to death at 450 Dawson St., Hartselle, according to court records. She was booked into the Morgan County Jail and held with no bond.
Hartselle police charged three men with capital murder in the slaying:
• Aaron Carter Howard, 39, 115 Razzway Circle, Toney, was arrested and booked into the Morgan County Jail.
• Logan McKinley Delp, 36, 170 Dusty Trail, Madison, was already being held in Madison County Metro Jail.
• Lajuhn Keith Smart, 24, 814 Magnolia Drive N.W., Huntsville, also was already in the Madison County jail.
There is no bond in Alabama for suspects charged with capital murder. Hartselle Police Chief Justin Barley said arrangements are being made to have Delp and Smart brought to Morgan County.
“Additional arrests are expected,” Barley said during a news conference Wednesday. “We’re very confident in that. We made a promise to the family, and we make the same promise to the community: Anyone and everyone that is somehow, someway involved in this case or responsible for the death of Larry Sheppard will be held accountable for that.”
Delp, who was questioned Tuesday while incarcerated in the Madison County jail on unrelated charges, told police he was hired by Skuce to kill Sheppard and fired the shots that killed him, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday in Morgan County District Court by Hartselle investigator Tania Burgess.
Skuce had filed a petition for a protection-from-abuse order against Sheppard on July 8, 2019, in Limestone County claiming he had sent her a letter in which he threatened to kill her, her children and himself. She was granted a temporary order July 11, 2019, but her petition for the order was denied Jan. 22 after Limestone County Circuit Judge Chadwick Wise found there wasn’t sufficient evidence that Sheppard sent the initial threatening letter or a second letter Skuce said was sent in October.
In the Hartselle police affidavit, Delp said he, Howard, Smart and an individual who hasn’t been charged went to Hartselle as a group.
Smart, who was questioned Monday while in the Madison County jail on unrelated charges, told police Delp drove to the Dawson Street address and “walked to the door to shoot Sheppard,” the affidavit said. “Smart said he got in the driver’s seat and drove away to Huntsville. He said Aaron Howard drove separately and acted as a lookout.”
Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said last month the autopsy report said the victim died of “multiple” gunshot wounds.
Authorities were conducting a wellness check on Sheppard at his home just east of U.S. 31 on July 24 when his body was discovered.
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said at the news conference that the case was resolved “because of good, old-fashioned police work.” He praised Burgess and another Hartselle officer, Alan McDearmond, for their investigative efforts.
“They had a lot of leads to chase, and they chased every one of them,” Anderson said. “This case was not going to go unsolved, and it didn’t, and I appreciate the work they put in.”
Barley said because more arrests are pending, he could not offer any more information or elaborate on a possible motive.
“This was a major milestone, but the investigation will continue; the amount of information we can release and the questions that we can answer is very limited right now,” he said.
Shell casing a clue
The police affidavit said surveillance video from Sheppard’s residence “showed a white male, wearing gray pants, red shoes, a gray toboggan and a black corona mask, walk to the residence and knock on the front door. When Sheppard opened the door, the suspect immediately began firing the gun, striking Sheppard multiple times. The suspect ran from the residence, entered a white Nissan Maxima and left the area.”
Spent shell casings were collected at the scene, and “at least one shell casing from the scene matched a shell casing that was previously submitted from an incident that occurred in Madison” in May, the affidavit said.
Investigators followed up with information on a suspect in the Madison incident “and determined the gun used in the murder was sold to a white male driving a small, white four-door Nissan or Toyota car,” the police affidavit said.
Investigators determined the white car used in the murder was between a 2000 and a 2003 Nissan Maxima. While trying to locate the vehicle, they learned it had been sold and was being driven by Delp, the police affidavit said.
Barley also read a statement from the family of the victim during the news conference.
“Larry was a son, brother, father and friend,” the statement read. “He was a lifelong resident of Hartselle, born and raised in this community that he loved. Larry was a successful business owner who was not afraid of a hard day’s work. He loved entertaining by playing his guitar and singing or by making them laugh by his over-the-top, fun-loving personality. He was the kind of person who believed in hard work to achieve your goals but was also willing to help a family member or friend who was in need.
“Larry loved two things most in life: those things were the Lord and his daughter. There was no mistake that when you were walking into his home, you were walking into the home of a loving father and God-fearing man who wanted nothing more than to spend every moment he could with his daughter.”