CHEROKEE COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A man accused of killing three women, shooting a man and kidnapping another woman is behind bars in Cherokee County.
Authorities say the triple homicide case centers around a domestic violence and child custody issue involving the suspect, 38-year-old Donnie Lee Abernathy of Centre, and one of the victims.
Sheriff Jeff Shaver says around midnight on Monday, Abernathy went to a home in the 1400 block of County Road 664, near Round Mountain, where the mother of his child was staying.
Investigators are not exactly sure why he went there, but they say Abernathy shot and killed three women who lived at the home. He then shot and injured a man who lived at the home, and kidnapped his former girlfriend.
The three women who were killed have been identified as Sylvia Duffy, 71, her sister Clara Edwards, 68, and Edwards' daughter, Pamela O'Shel, 48. The woman who was kidnapped was Duffy's daughter.
As Abernathy fled the home, he ran into a Cherokee County Sheriff's deputy's vehicle that was responding to the scene. A short chase ensued and ended when Abernathy eventually crashed in Sand Rock.
Abernathy was treated at a hospital and is now being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center on charges of capital murder, first degree kidnapping, first-degree criminal mischief and attempting to elude.
The woman who was kidnapped was also in the vehicle. She was treated at a hospital and released.
"It's just shocking because you don't expect things like this to happen. This is a very peaceful quiet community and just not something that's normal here," Sheriff Shaver said.
Shaver said there was no history of domestic violence between Abernathy and the mother of his child. However, he said the two would come to the sheriff's office to exchange the child for visits.
In late September, Abernathy filed for full custody of the infant, saying the child's mother had threatened to leave Alabama with the baby and he he feared for the child's safety.
The case is being investigated by the Cherokee County Major Crimes Unit.