Looking Back: 20th Anniversary of Beasley-Hawlett Murder Case

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OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — It’s been 20 years since teens J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett were found shot to death in the trunk of Beasley’s car.

For nearly two decades, J.B. and Tracie’s story has always been the same: a double murder, two heartbroken families, an elusive killer and a shocked Wiregrass.

However, 20 years later, the story changed.

On March 15, 2019, Ozark police arrested and charged 45-year-old Coley McCraney with five counts of capital murder and one charge of first-degree rape. McCraney’s arrest resulted from a DNA sample that matched evidence found at the 1999 crime scene.

Shortly after the arrest, members of J.B. and Tracie’s families spoke exclusively to WDHN.

“It hasn’t registered with me just yet, but I was super happy,” said J.B.’s sister, Jacqui Burgoon Herring.

“We were numb,” said Tracie’s mother, Carol Roberts. “We just sat there, trying to let it sink in.”

Since that time, the prosecution has vowed to provide ultimate justice.

“He (McCraney) is death penalty eligible,” District Attorney Kirke Adams told the media during a March press conference.

Meanwhile, McCraney’s lawyer has fought to defend his client.

“We’re in this for the long run and we have a side of our story that we’re going to put evidence on,” said McCraney’s attorney, David Harrison.

Thursday, members of the community reacted to the case’s 20th anniversary.

“They’ve got to stick to the case,” said resident Dallas Palmer.

“To be honest, it was kind of crazy knowing that today is 20 years ago,” said Ozark resident James Farmer.

Despite the controversies and unknowns in the case, one thing is certain: after nearly 20 years, the Beasley-Hawlett case has finally started to progress.

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