It was Saturday morning on July 2, 2016, and Kerry Muzzey was not answering his door.
A friend, Harry Fisher, had come to see Muzzey. Friends had not heard from him since Wednesday.
After getting no response, Fisher called Robb Sanborn, another of Muzzey’s friends. Sanborn suggested Fisher, who was approaching his 80s, find someone else to go inside with him. Sanborn told Fisher where the spare keys were hidden.
“They went in and found him dead in the house,” Sanborn said.
It has been almost five years since the murder of Muzzey, 69, in his home on Mount Island Drive in Midtown, and no suspect has been charged in his death. He had been struck in the head several times with some type of object while sitting in a chair in his living room.
A police report of the incident gives little insight: Muzzey was tall, at six feet two inches. He weighed 160 pounds. He had blonde hair, or used to, and blue eyes. He was killed in his home with an unknown weapon.
Sanborn remembers walking in Muzzey’s home a few days after his body was discovered, after police had processed the scene. On the once-white chair, now stained with blood, Sanborn could see the imprint left behind from the body.
“There was blood everywhere,” Sanborn said. “We had to have the walls taken out. We had to have the flooring completely taken out of that room. It was a horrendous scene.”
Before his death, Muzzey, friends said, kept largely to himself, only going out to bars every six months or so.
“Kerry was a very strange person in a lot of ways,” Sanborn said.
In an NBC15 news report on daylight saving time, years before his murder, Muzzey can be seen rocking in a chair in his living room, surrounded by houseplants and an extensive collection of clocks, 78 in all. It took him two days to reset them all.
“[Time is] either your best friend or your worst enemy,” Muzzey told NBC15. “Your best friend in that it allows the time to spend with someone, but also it can be taken away like that.”
Sanborn and Muzzey had known each other for almost 40 years, as lovers then as friends.
“We had a very nasty breakup, but in the times after the breakup, when I had heart surgery, when I had neck surgery, he was there for me,” Sanborn said. “He would come by every day and check on me. We became friends and reconciled in that way before I left Mobile.”
Muzzey had trusted Sanborn enough to make him the executor of his estate. Even after Sanborn moved to Florida, they talked frequently.
“I was probably as close a friend as he had,” Sanborn said.
There were a lot of things about Muzzey that didn’t make sense, he said. Muzzey retired as soon as he could on Social Security in 2009, after working at Mack Manufacturing for decades. He was “extremely knowledgeable about a lot of things and never failed to give his opinion.”
“He would call city people and raise hell with them or tell them what they ought to do,” Sanborn said. “He always had an opinion on everything. But if you were his friend, he would go the 100th mile for you.”
Sanborn said valuables were sitting in the open in Muzzey’s house that had not been stolen, which led him to think robbery was not a motive. There was a pair of gold rings in the kitchen, $300 on the top of the refrigerator and more money on his bedroom dresser.
At the time, police said it was likely Muzzey knew his killer since there were no signs of forced entry.
Sanborn thinks it could have been a “gay-related” crime, like a hate crime or a hookup gone wrong. Muzzey had posted in the “personals” section on Craigslist the week before his death.
“There was so much brutality,” Sanborn said. “It was just — it was incredibly brutal.”
The police report of the incident did not indicate that the murder was motivated by any kind of bias.
Though many things were not taken from the house, Sanborn recalled a computer being stolen.
“Kerry was notorious for hooking up with people on the computer, and as far as I know, that’s never been found,” he said.
Muzzey exclusively used the back door to move in and out of his house, which had to be locked with a key. When friends came to check on Muzzey that Saturday, the back door was locked and his keys were inside the house. There was a front door, but it was never used by guests since the backdoor was more convenient.
“That always seemed strange to me,” Sanborn said.
Darwin Singleton, an anchor at NBC15, was also Muzzey’s friend. He remembers someone calling him, saying there were police cars all around Muzzey’s house.
“So I drove right over there, and I got out and some of the detectives came up to me,” he said. “They thought I was there to do a news story and I said, ‘No, I know this guy.’”
They took him into the back of a police car for questioning. “The First 48” had just begun filming with the Mobile Police Department (MPD), shadowing homicide detectives for the popular TV show. No episode was ever made on Muzzey’s murder.
“It was a particularly violent killing,” Singleton said. “I actually managed to get a hold of a picture of the chair that he was killed in and the area surrounding it, and it was especially violent.”
The picture had to be blurred out before airing in one of the several stories NBC15 and other news organizations ran on the case.
“And it was unnecessarily [violent], so you got the impression that whoever did this was in a fit of rage,” Singleton said.
This was not the first time Singleton had to report on the death of someone he knew — an uncle died in a boating accident when the newscaster worked in Kentucky — but it was the first time he reported on the murder of someone he knew.
“When someone you know is violently killed like that, you’re trying to — you want to find out anything you can because you want to feel like you’re doing something to help,” Singleton said.
In 2018, Singleton aired a report on Muzzey’s cold case, saying no new developments had been made.
“I was Kerry’s friend and, of course, I was shocked and dismayed by it, and still am,” Singleton said. “It’s haunted me, because he was a friend and I’m a reporter, and you’d think I’d be able to do something to help solve the mystery.”
Muzzey had been estranged from his family for decades, though Sanborn doesn’t remember exactly why.
“What he said and what the family said were diametrically opposed,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what the situation was. When we were together, [Muzzey’s] kids would come down and spend a couple of weeks in the summer.”
In August 2016, a memorial service was held for Muzzey at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mobile, which Sanborn officiated. Muzzey’s daughter was in attendance, Sanborn said.
Not knowing what happened to his friend or who did it is something that bothers Sanborn.
“Kerry, like all of us, was a flawed human being,” Sanborn wrote on a Facebook post in 2018. “But no one deserves such a brutal end.”
MPD Sgt. Nick Crepeau, who investigates cold cases for the department, said there have been no new updates or leads in the case.
“Somebody knows something. At least the killer knows,” Crepeau said. “Most times, the suspect talks to somebody, tells something. We hope that whoever the suspect may have told finds it within themselves to come forward. I’ve certainly had cases where people knew information on murders and it took them two, three years or even more to finally come forward, to tell what they knew.”
Anyone who has information about the case may contact MPD at 251-208-1759.
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