New details in 2015 Marshall County double murder shared at trial

Published: Aug. 20, 2019 at 6:38 PM CDT
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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - The lead investigator in a high-profile capital murder case was back on the stand Monday.

Jeffrey McKelvey is on trial for the September 2015 murders of Denie and Pam Tucker.

His co-defendant, Henry Pyle, pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence. Earlier this year amid a number of health concerns, he testified against McKelvey.

The prosecution began questioning Monday before resting to the defense before lunch.

In a video testimony, Pyle detailed their whereabouts the days before and after the crime.

Pyle, 57, testified that he and McKelvey were co-workers and roommates.

When both lost their jobs in July 2015, they started ‘gas hustling’ along Interstate 65. As a way to make money they made up elaborate stories to con money out of people. In most cases it involved a false narrative about Pyle’s daughter being hospitalized and the pair in desperate need of a few dollars to see her. They made thousands off of this scheme, according to Pyle.

It was just by chance that the Tucker’s parked beside the pair at a Cullman Cracker Barrel restaurant. The scheme was used on Denie Tucker who gave them $60.

McKelvey and Pyle insisted on paying Tucker back, so he gave them a business card with his number and address.

Pyle testified that they saw Mr. Tucker with what seemed like $10,000. Days later they decided to ‘pay him back.'

The pair drove to the Tucker’s Marshall County home, robbed and killed them, according to Pyle.

In his testimony, he explained after they forced their way inside that Mrs. Tucker ran to the back bedrooms while Mr. Tucker ran out the backdoor.

Pyle went after Mr. Tucker and got into a fight with him outside. McKelvey was inside with Mrs. Tucker when several gunshots were heard by Pyle outside.

He says McKelvey came outside, grabbed Mr. Tucker and escorted him inside. Ultimately, McKelvey shot and killed both wife and husband, according to Pyle’s testimony.

Once the couple was dead, McKelvey and Pyle searched the house for money. They left with $19,980 in cash and 6 guns. The split their findings evenly.

On Tuesday, prosecutors introduced a new witness who claims to have been a victim of the ‘gas hustle.’

The former Decatur lawyer testified that in the same he approached the Tucker’s and many other victims, Pyle came up with an elaborate story about his injured daughter in Chattanooga. He mentioned to the lawyer that he was a Red Bay resident and without his wallet did not have money for gas to get back to Red Bay or to Chattanooga.

A friend of the attorney immediately gave Pyle $50. The attorney was skeptical so instead he suggested to gas up Pyle’s truck. After the transaction, Pyle showed up at the lawyer’s office to thank him again and request a business card for possible repayment.

Due to his suspicion of Pyle’s behavior, the lawyer called police and alerted them of this possible scam.

At the same time they were scamming people out of money, they both became addicted to drugs like cocaine.

Tuesday’s testimony focused on Pyle. He detailed his sickness that he believes was linked to a cocktail of antibiotics used to treat an infection and cocaine. Pyle added he suffered from hallucinations because of cocaine withdrawals.

In the weeks after the crime, Pyle says they blew through the money with drugs, prostitutes and other financial obligations.

The lead investigator explained they found McKelvey’s truck at an impound lot in Birmingham. Police had the abandoned truck towed off the Interstate.

Forensic tests were taken on the truck.

In the days before the trial, McKelvey and Pyle borrowed the gun used in the crime from his drug dealer. In his testimony, Pyle explained he and McKelvey would pay $200 if the gun wasn’t fired. If it was, they would pay $1000 to the drug dealer.

The point of the gun, according to Pyle, was for intimidation. Killing the Tucker’s was never part of the plan.

In an effort to find any activity that would lead back to the Tucker’s, investigators used an online database called “Leads Online” to see if anything belonging to the couple was pawned in the weeks after their murder.

Several hits popped up in the Birmingham area.

The investigator testified that security footage and transaction documentation proved McKelvey pawned items at Easy Pawn and Cash America pawn shops. In both cases, the pawned goods were pieces of jewelry that belonged to Pam Tucker.

The defense tried to paint Pyle, the prosecutions key witness, as a drug addicted, strange man who was obsessed with their client.

Pyle admitted to quitting his job because McKelvey was on the verge of getting fired. He called McKelvey, in his deposition hearing, his only friend and the only person he trusted. Even after McKelvey shot and killed the Tucker’s unexpectedly, Pyle still trusted him 100%.

Defense attorney’s questioned Pyle’s interactions with investigations. They eluded that Pyle used them for things while they obliged for a confession. He denied these claims.

While no murder weapon was ever found, it is believed a .40 caliber gun was used in the murders. Investigators made this judgement based on the shell casings on scene.

Pyle led investigators to a Blount County bridge where it is believed the murder weapon was dumped. On the stand, the investigator said due to the conditions it was not worth a deep search as nothing was likely to be recovered.

Fingernail clippings from the victims, jewelry at the Tucker’s home as well as a safe containing $25,000 were all taken in for forensic tests. In most cases, the results were of no value to the case.

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