The case of Alvin and Judith Neelley, is another couple who kill case, and one that isn’t as well known as other couples that we have heard of. Ladies first, let’s talk about Judith Neelley first.
Judith Ann Adams, was born in June, 1964. She was born in Tennessee, and her alcoholic father died when she was nine years old. At a young age, Judith became pregnant, with twins, but eventually gave birth in the Rome, Georgia, Youth Development Center. She and Alvin Neelley got married in 1980.
Alvin Howard Neelley Jr, was born in 1953. He was a car thief, and divorced his first wife to marry Judith. He was 26, she was 15 at the time. It was believed that Alvin was borderline mentally deficient.
Lisa Millican, was a 13 year old girl, who was living at the Ethel Hapst Home, a home for neglected and abused girls and boys in Georgia. On a supervised trip to the local mall, Lisa, disappeared.
She had been found, at the bottom of an 80 foot drop into the banks of the Little River Canyon. The anonymous call advised police that the body of a young girl was down there. The area was used as a garbage dumping ground by locals, and Lisa may not have been found if not for the calls.
The one call was recorded and when they were trying to identify the caller with another young girl from the same home; they got a link they didn’t expect.
Two people, John Hancock and Janice Kay Chatman, were out walking one evening when they accepted a ride from a woman in a brown car. She was young, one her own, and they drove with no real destination. She said she just wanted to talk. While they drove she had used the CB radio to reach someone named Nightrider. She used the handle, Lady Sundown.
They drove to a dirt road and met up with Nightrider. He had arrived in a red car with two kids with him. The woman told John to ride with Nightrider while Janice and she would ride together. They continued to drive north, and when they got farther, John was instructed to walk down the road away from the cars, Lady Sundown then shot him in the back. John lay on the side of the road until he was sure it was safe to get up and seek help.
Lady Sundown and Nightrider drove off with Janice and she hadn’t been seen since.
The police didn’t fully believe John’s story until he identified an unknown voice being played from a recording for another witness, Debbie Smith, to the disappearance of Lisa Millican. He claimed, “That’s the damn woman that shot me!”
During the investigation of the two seemingly unrelated cases, a suspect slowly became clear. Due to the recording and the phrases used by the caller, it was believed that the female caller had previously been in the local juvenile center. John Hancock had stated that the two cars that had abducted him and Janice had out of state license plates. Detectives then asked the detention center for any girls that were admitted from other states. They received a list of 25 names.
After investigating the names, the police were left with one name; Judith Ann Neelley. Police compiled photos and had John look at them. He believed that Judith was similar to the woman who had given them a ride, but he couldn’t be sure. However, Debbie Smith, was able to identify Judith positively.
Several days later, Judith was arrested in Tennessee for passing bad checks, and Alvin was arrested a few days later.
Investigators hurried to Tennessee and were surprised by Alvin and Judith. Alvin got a lawyer but waived his right to remain silent and provided a detailed statement. He stated that Judith, not he, was the mastermind and sexual deviant of the couple. He stated that Judith had planned and carried out various crimes but also the abduction and murders of both Lisa Millican and Janice Chatman, he advised where Janice’s body could be found. Alvin admitted that he feared his wife.
Judy was being interviewed down the call from Alvin. She stated she didn’t need a lawyer, and she answered any questions calmly and in detail. Other crimes were admitted to and the abductions of Lisa and Janice, and all that they had endured before their deaths.
Both Alvin and Judy were arrested and put on trial separately; by a 10-2 vote, the jury recommended that Judy be sentenced to life in prison. In Alabama, however, a jury’s recommendation in a capital case is not the final word on the matter. It serves only to inform the judge of the jury’s opinion, the final decision lying with the judge himself. After a brief sentencing hearing the Judge sentenced Judy to die in Alabama’s electric chair. She was eighteen years old. Her sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Alvin was afraid of Judy’s testimony as she had agreed to testify against him. Alvin plead guilty to kidnapping with bodily harm and intent to murder. He was sentenced to two life terms. Alvin died in October 2005, while undergoing surgery.
Be strong, make good choices, be safe