November 20, 2012

Accused murderer Sonny Neal indicted

Rachel Brown
rachelbrown@daltoncitizen.com

— Adolph Ray “Sonny” Neal, the Dawnville man accused of killing his wife and her grandfather in May, has been indicted by a Whitfield County grand jury on two counts of murder.

Neal, who was 49 at the time of the May 24 incident, is accused of stabbing to death Jessica Neal, 27, and beating to death Don William Shedd, 69. A week-long manhunt for Neal involving hundreds of law enforcement officers ended when a passerby saw someone meeting Neal’s description in Varnell and contacted police.

“I don’t have an arraignment date yet,” said District Attorney Bert Poston. “The arraignment would be early next year. It won’t be in December.”

Neal is still in jail without bond, and his attorney, Marcus Morris, didn’t immediately return phone calls on Monday. His case is assigned to Judge William T. Boyett.

Sheriff Scott Chitwood at the time of the incident called the murders “a crime of passion.” Police learned of the deaths after the Neals’ 9-year-old daughter came crying to a neighbor, saying she’d found her grandfather dead and couldn’t find either of her parents.

The bodies were found in the family’s home at 1200 Green Springs Road. Chitwood said the deaths were “extremely violent homicides.” Police haven’t said specifically what Neal allegedly used to beat Shedd, referring to an “object.”

Neal had a bond hearing scheduled in June, less than two weeks after his arrest, but his attorney withdrew it, saying he didn’t think the defense “ought to be asking the court to exercise its discretion under these circumstances” on the heels of a massive manhunt. Neal hasn’t asked for a bond since, Poston said.

Whitfield County jail records show Neal was arrested in 1998 for disorderly conduct, in 2000 for theft by taking and in 2010 for simple battery and public drunkenness.