Hunt continues for suspect in Toyota manager's slaying

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Madison County man shot and killed in his driveway will be laid to rest Monday.

Nelms Funeral Home in Huntsville announced Friday that George Woodard's funeral will be held at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in New Market where he was a Deacon.  The service will begin at noon Monday.  Visitation is set for Sunday evening at the Funeral Home.

Madison County investigators said Wednesday's slaying of a Toyota plant manager at a home on Debbie Boulevard was a targeted attack. But WAFF 48 News was told there is still a lot of leg work left in the unsolved case.

George Woodard, Jr. was shot about 5:30 Wednesday morning in his driveway on Debbie Boulevard off Naugher Road in northeast Madison County.

So far, investigators have spoken to what they called many persons of interest. But the Madison County Sheriff's Department is not commenting on a possible suspect or motive.

Woodard, a husband and father, loved to garden and was a deacon in his church. He worked at the Toyota plant as an assistant manager in the machine area. His family said Woodard was well liked and respected.

Family members and friends are in shock over the death.  They said he was a good man, hard worker and didn't have any known enemies.

Madison County authorities sent out an alert to be on the lookout for the person who might be involved in the shooting. WAFF 48 News was told by investigators they have several persons of interest they were questioning Thursday morning.

Madison County sheriff's deputies roped yellow crime scene tape around Woodard's home on before sunup Wednesday morning. Investigator Brent Patterson said he was getting into his pickup truck to leave for work when he was shot and killed.

"This is very, very unfortunate for the neighbors and the victim's family," Patterson said.

Patterson said to WAFF 48 News that his wife and son were at the home and were amongst those who contacted 911.

Woodard's relatives and friends gathered on the sidewalk in front of his home, some staring at the crime scene in disbelief, with others visibly shaken.

"Great guy," said Sheila Woodard, the victim's older sister. "All-American guy. He's an all-around Christian. Someone you would see the glow of God on."

George Woodard was not a person that his sister said deserved to be gunned down in his own driveway. The crime has left his family, friends, co-workers and a community shocked and heartbroken.

"We don't know why he's gone now," Sheila Woodard said. "I'm going to miss my brother because he was my rock."

His co-workers at the Toyota plant feel they've lost not only a manager but a friend.

"There were no guidelines with who George dealt with. Everybody was friends family. He loved everyone," said Maurice McDonald.

"George and I were close friends. He made everybody feel special," added Curtis Sledge.

Woodard had worked at the plant for seven years.

'"It was really devastating for the plant," said Jim Bolte, The President of the Toyota plant. "Team members were emotionally upset."

George was  friend to those who worked closest to him, described as dependable and hard working. He was a man that left an impression on many. [

"We worked closely. Spoke everyday," remembers Julie Morton. "George always spoke to everyone, smiled made you feel good."

"George is the first person who made himself a friend to me when I got here," said Lisa O'Neill. "I moved here from Wisconsin without family. He opened his home and family to me."

Woodard's Toyota family can't believe he's gone. The company's flag was lowered in his memory.

"Whoever did this, we don't know what happened. All we know is this is just a tragedy. We don't know any details or anything it's just a tragedy," said Sheila Woodard.

She recalled the night before her family's world turned upside down. Her final words with her brother were three she'll never forget.

"I said, 'I love you,' and we hugged each other," she said. "So I'm okay, I'm okay, and I'm not okay. It's a tragedy."

Investigators are asking the public for help. Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call The Madison County Sheriff's Department at 256-722-7181.

©2009 WAFF. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.