“God is good!” 3 year cold case ends in arrest

GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — An Etowah county family is sleeping easier tonight because their loved one’s murder was solved after almost three years.

Gadsden Police called the murder of Gary Stokes a cold case, but that all quickly changed last week.

Captain Paul Cody with the Gadsden Police Department says that the case hit a dead end until they got some unexpected help.

“There was no more information, no more resources, no more evidence and not a single suspect,” Cody said. “That all changed just days ago when someone called in a tip.”

Stokes was 52 years old when someone stabbed him and left him to die on the steps.

“I passed out in the road out there in shock,” said Renay Stokes, Gary’s sister. “I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t believe nobody would take his life. Not that man.”

Since that day, Gary’s family turned 2913 Hartford Street into a makeshift memorial. For nearly three years, the house sat, suspended in time. Then they got the news they’d been waiting on.

“As of late yesterday afternoon, Mr. William Michael Rowe, 47, of Gadsden, was arrested for the murder of Mr. Gary Stokes,” Cody said.

The family was overwhelmed by the knowledge that the search had finally come to an end.

“My God. I didn’t know what to do,” Renay said. “I didn’t know how to react. I just start screaming, shouting and kicking, so full of joy. That burden lifted up off my shoulders and out of my heart.”

Within minutes of the announcement, 2913 Hartford Street came alive again.

“God is good! God is great and God is good!” Renay said. “Because he answers prayers and he answered our prayer.”

Now the Stokes family has renewed hope that justice will be served.

“We got what we wanted, and we gotta go forth with it,” Renay said. “We got to make sure this man is prosecuted and put in prison for what he did. He will not hurt nobody else.”

The Stokes family believes Rowe could have been after some money.

He’s now in the Etowah County Jail on $100,000 dollars cash bond.


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