Woman found bound with zip ties leads Alabama deputies to slain woman’s body

A woman who called police Friday evening to report being held against her will led authorities to the body of a slain woman in a wooded area of central Alabama.

The homicide victim has been identified as Kellie Ann Hughes, 31, of Birmingham.

WBRC in Birmingham reported that Jefferson County 911 dispatchers received a call at 4:42 p.m. Friday from the alleged kidnapping victim. According to AL.com, the woman told a dispatcher she didn't know where she was.

Deputies were able to trace her cellphone to the Woodside Condominiums in Center Point, a city about 15 miles northeast of Birmingham.

The condominium complex is the same one in which authorities allege 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, a Birmingham toddler abducted from outside a birthday party Oct. 12, was sexually assaulted and killed. Cupcake’s body was found 10 days later in a dumpster at a landfill.

The toddler, who died of strangulation, had methamphetamine and the sedative trazadone in her system when she died. The suspects in the toddler's death lived at Woodside, authorities said.

Credit: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

Credit: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

Explore>> Related story: 2 charged in death of 3-year-old Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney

In Friday's incident, deputies who traced the caller's phone to the complex found the woman tumbling down a flight of stairs, her hands bound with zip ties, WBRC reported. They rescued her and she was treated for multiple visible injuries, first at the scene and then at a hospital.

The woman told detectives she had information about a homicide and believed that was why she had been kidnapped, Jefferson County Deputy Chief David Agee told AL.com. The victim's information led investigators to a wooded area near St. Vincent's East Hospital, where they spent several hours scouring the terrain.

WBRC reported that the body of a white female was found around 1:55 a.m. Saturday, dumped in a secluded spot near the hospital. The area was cordoned off until dawn, at which point the crime scene was processed and the woman's body taken to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, AL.com reported.

Agee told AL.com there was no clear motive yet for Hughes' killing, but that two suspects had been identified.

"These are some mean-spirited people," Agee said of the suspects. "We will get them."

A “be on the lookout” bulletin, or BOLO, had been issued Saturday for a rental car believed to be involved in the crimes. Authorities were still searching for the unnamed suspects Monday.

Credit: Google

Credit: Google

Hughes' brother, Branden Hughes, told AL.com that his "whole family is destroyed." He described his sister, who grew up in Massachusetts, as outgoing and "spunky."

"It was rare for anybody to meet Kellie and not instantly fall in love with her. Her personality always had people laughing," Hughes said.

Kellie Hughes, who grew up with the siblings' father in Boston, moved to Alabama to be closer to her brother after their father died. The siblings developed a close relationship, AL.com reported.

"That was my little sister and we were oddly almost the same person, just in different bodies," Branden Hughes told the news site. "That was my best friend. I really don't even remember arguing with her."

Kellie Hughes was married but separated from her husband, with whom she maintained a bond. Branden Hughes said it was his brother-in-law who called with the news of his sister’s death.

"Mom was at work and he called me," Branden Hughes said. "He said the coroner's office needed to talk to me and I asked him why. He said, 'they found Kellie's body.'

“I instantly went numb.”

On Facebook, Branden Hughes wrote that he is heartbroken. The military veteran also wrote of wanting to take justice in his own hands.

“You will be found and I hope you get the max sentence because it will be so much better than what I want to do to you,” Hughes wrote.

The grieving brother told AL.com that he is fighting the urge for vengeance in his sister's name, particularly with names of potential suspects circulating on social media.

"As hard as it is for me not to go after the person who did this, I don't want to jeopardize the investigation," he told the site.

He also urged people via Facebook to stop spreading rumors about his sister’s death.

"I've been in contact with the detectives and no one is in custody yet, but they have someone of interest they are looking for," Hughes wrote Monday morning.

Hughes said he is puzzled as to why anyone would have wanted his sister dead.

"This is something you watch on the ID channel, not try to figure out why it was your own sister. Kellie was friends with everybody and some of those friends I did not like, and I told her that," he told AL.com. "I just kind wish she would have listened to us a little more.

“I’m a pretty good judge of character and if I don’t like you, it’s for a reason. I guess she just got friendly with the wrong group of people.”

The killings of Kellie Hughes and Cupcake McKinney are not the only recent homicides tied to Woodside Condominiums. Authorities said Kenny Unsells Hambright, 56, was gunned down the night of Dec. 7 in the parking lot of the complex, where he was a resident.

He was pronounced dead at a hospital early the following morning.

Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama announced on Friday that investigators were looking for Cordlin Tevon Garrett, 26, in connection with multiple charges stemming from an incident earlier in the day Dec. 7. According to WBRC, Garrett is accused of firing an assault rifle at a man walking across the parking lot of the same condo complex where Hambright was killed hours later.

The gunfire missed Garrett’s alleged target but sent stray bullets into multiple condos. No one was injured in the shooting.

Garrett was taken into custody Saturday following a tip to Crime Stoppers, the Trussville Tribune reported. Along with the charges from the other incident, Garrett has been charged with murder in Hambright's homicide.

"He's a dangerous young man and we wanted him bad. We suspect he is involved in other crimes," Agee told AL.com Monday. "We really wanted to find him and get him off the street. We're grateful to whoever called that tip in."

ABC 33/40 in Birmingham reported that Center Point officials have handed owners and residents at Woodside Condominiums notices that they have 60 days to clean up or the entire complex will be razed.

Mayor Tom Henderson pointed to the spike in crime as part of the reason.

"We've pinpointed those apartments for a while and (have) been working with the Sheriff's Office to do extra patrols and work up in there," Henderson told the news station.

The mayor said many of the condo owners live out of state and rent the properties out. A September fire also damaged a portion of the complex, leaving damaged and unoccupied units.

"We have sent out letters to them about cleaning up their properties and getting things in order there," Henderson said. "If they don't respond and do what they need to do with their properties, we will begin putting notices out and starting the process to tear those properties down."

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