Cullman Co. Sheriff: Suspect was mentally ill, ‘obsessed’ with slain victim for decade

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE JULY 18, 2017 3:30 PM — Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry held a press conference Tuesday regarding the death of 73-year-old Stephen K. Griffith and the alleged suspect 45-year-old Patrick O. Walker.

Gentry began the conference by explaining this was an isolated incident. Gentry said Walker went to Griffith’s residence a little before 6 with the intention to kill the attorney.

According to Gentry, investigators identified Walker was mentally ill and had been “obsessed” with Griffith for a decade. Gentry says in 1997, Walker was involved in a case, and for the last decade, he believed Griffith played a part in that case.

“Mr. Walker became infatuated with Mr. Griffith, even though they had no connection. There was no connection between the two,” Gentry emphasized. “And yesterday, that mental illness led Mr. Walker to Mr. Griffith’s residence where he took his life.”

He said a second victim is in the hospital recovering after they struggled with Walker, ultimately killing him.

“This was a product of the failure of our society. This was a product of someone with mental illness not getting treated,” Gentry said. “This is a issue we have talked about many times. It’s an issue that makes me angry. It’s an issue that law enforcement, victims and our citizens struggle with every day, and it’s an issue our community needs to fix.”

CBS 42’s Jamie Ostroff will have a live update from Cullman County on the CBS 42 News at 5 and 6.

UPDATE 7/18: The Cullman County coroner has identified the victim as 73-year-old Stephen K. Griffith of Vinemont, AL. The suspect, who is also deceased, has been identified as Patrick O. Walker, 45, of Jones Chapel, AL.

Griffith was a well-known community member and attorney in Cullman County. The Griffith, Lowry, and Meherg, LLC firm shared this statement with CBS 42 regarding Griffith’s death:

“Our hearts are broken. We have lost our senior partner, our mentor, our friend. No one will ever be able to replace Steve Griffith. He was larger than life. We will miss him more than words can express. Our hearts and prayers go out to Steve’s family.”


Two people have died after a reported home invasion that took place in Cullman County, according to Brad Williams with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.

Williams told CBS42 News that a homeowner was shot and killed at a dwelling on County Road 1301 around 5 p.m. At the time of that shooting, there was reportedly another person inside of the house that shot and killed the intruder.

At this time, Williams told CBS42 News that the department is not releasing any more details. WIAT will bring you more information as it becomes available.

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