Who killed Patricia Collum? Family demands justice in brutal 1991 slashing

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — For the family of Patricia Collum, not having answers means they can never find true peace. For everyone else it means a killer may still be walking the streets.

32-year-old Patricia Furline Collum was murdered on October 6th, 1991, according to the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff John Shearon said it happened inside a mobile home in Seab’s Fish Camp, a rural location near Yellow Leaf Creek just below Lay Dam.

Patricia’s sister, Mitzie Wheat, says the family’s reaction can only be described as total devastation.

Wheat says her sister was a joy to be around.

“Fun loving. Easy to get along with. Loved everybody. Always had a joke to tell,” said Wheat.

“She and her husband were in the process of getting a divorce and she was staying in a little mobile home on the river that they would, had often used on weekends. They would take the children down for weekends,” Wheat continued.

A neighbor contacted law enforcement when she noticed she noticed Patricia hadn’t gone to work one Monday morning, according to Wheat. Investigators tell CBS 42 News that they think the murder happened the night before. Patricia’s loved ones have been praying for justice ever since, according to Wheat.

“There were no arrests. They were just never confident enough that they would get a guilty verdict at trial and you only get one shot at that, so they didn’t want to blow that one shot,” her sister said. “They should know after this long that if we haven’t given up there’s not a chance that we’re ever going to give up whether it’s a suspect or someone who has information about a suspect. We’re not going to give up.”

The road that once led to Seab’s Fish Camp, County Road 608, is now closed and gated, according to Wheat. Even though a quarter of a century has passed since she was killed, investigators are still hopeful that someone saw something which could reignite the case.

Sheriff John Shearon says the case is still a priority and he believes that it can be solved.

“Prior investigators with the Sheriff’s Office, with ABI, they’ve done multiple interviews on this case and you know nothing concrete had ever came up to make an arrest on the case,” said Shearon. “DNA has come a long way…Now we can close a lot more cases with DNA.”

“This was a very brutal murder that took place back in 1991. Just a very brutal scene from the pictures and the evidence that I’ve seen. It’s very disturbing. I mean we know the case went unsolved for all these years. It’s a very scary situation. Could that person do it again?” said Shearon.

“We want closure for the family. They deserve closure through the things….things that they’ve gone through,” he continued.

Patricia Collum’s mother, Mary Furline, can describe the agony of losing a child to murder in vivid, visceral detail.

“It’s like someone reached into my heart and pulled it out. And I’m running around looking for that part of my heart to put back to make it be easy again. That’s the only way that I can describe it,” said Furline.

Mary Furline says her daughter always came to her when she was hurt.

“And one thing Patricia… at night she would always say, ‘Mother leave the light on ‘till I go to sleep.’ I always felt after she was killed…what did she feel when she knew she was gonna’ die? When someone came at her with that knife, what did she feel? And that was one of the hardest things for me to deal with was her fear,” said Furline.  “I feel like, that she wants me to know. And that’s one thing that keeps me pushing.”

“But you never get over it. Some people will say put it behind you. Go on with your life, but there’s no way to go on with your life…just face each day as you can,” she continued.

The Chilton County Sheriff believes someone holds the vital piece of information that could solve this case if they would step forward.

“You know anybody that watches this that has any information at all if they would come forward with it and share that information with us because I mean somebody has had to have said something down through the years,” said Shearon. “People may not think much about it, but it may be what it takes to break the case.”

Anyone with information about the murder of Patricia Collum is urged to call the Chilton County Sheriff’s office at (205) 755-4698 or their Crime Tips Hotline at (205) 755-7898.  Sheriff Shearon says you can choose to remain anonymous.

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