A full 10 years after a homicide case in Mobile went cold, the Mobile Police Department (MPD) arrested a suspect in the murder of 62-year-old William Willet this past week.
Willet was leaving a convenience store he frequented on 1752 Duval St. on the night of May 2, 2011 when someone approached him. Willet was shot and the perpetrator drove off in the victim’s vehicle.
Willet died shortly after in a hospital. The case quickly ran cold.
A decade later, investigators at MPD arrested a suspect, Labaron Tyrell Lockhart, 26, and charged him with Willet’s murder. Lockhart was 16 years old at the time of the killing and robbery is believed to be a motive.
Last year, fingerprints collected during this case were reexamined, along with fingerprints from other cases, MPD Sgt. Nick Crepeau said. They had found fingerprints on Willet’s car, which had been recovered.
Since Lockhart was 16 at the time of the shooting, his fingerprints were not yet in the system, Crepeau said. However, he has been arrested multiple times since. When fingerprints on the case were checked against the system this time, they had a match.
Even though Lockhart’s fingerprints matched those found on the car, there was still investigation that had to be done, Crepeau said. In December, he interviewed Lockhart and ordered additional DNA analysis.
Police were able to arrest Lockhart after presenting the evidence collected to a grand jury, which indicted him.
“We were able to get him in custody pretty easily,” Crepeau said. “We didn’t have to have a manhunt for him or anything like that.”
Lockhart was arrested and sent to Mobile County Metro Jail July 7. A trial date is forthcoming.
Since September of last year, Crepeau has been MPD’s sole cold case homicide detective. He had previously worked in the homicide unit for almost nine years.
This is not the first time he’s found a suspect upon reviewing the evidence. Earlier this summer, a suspect in the January 1988 murder of 69-year-old Stella McCrary was arrested after Crepeau discovered a DNA match between the suspect and evidence from the crime scene. Like in the Lockhart case, the arrest was made following an interview with the suspect and an indictment from a grand jury.
“The case went cold kind of quick — just didn’t have anything on it,” Crepeau said. “Once we got this fingerprint hit late last year, that’s when more follow-up investigation was done.”
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