Family wants answers to how convicted murderer escaped prison

Published: Apr. 11, 2012 at 2:15 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2012 at 2:16 AM CDT
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WALKER COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - The search continues for a convicted murderer. He escaped Sunday from a Hale County minimum security facility.

The family of his victim says he never should have been assigned there in the first place. They call Timothy Richards a "cold-blooded killer."

The family is not only are they outraged he's on the run; they're upset they weren't notified earlier. They say Richards had been missing for nearly 24 hours before they got the news.

Richards is convicted of killing Randy McCullar back in 1997.  McCullar's then wife is said to be the mastermind behind the plot, asking Richards to kill her husband so her tangled and illegal love life wouldn't be revealed.

Randy McCullar's mother, Betty said, "I heard his voice after he died one night. He said mama look what they done to me. I knew who it was. I knew who did it."  And with that, Betty McCullar knew her son's wife and newest lover took her only son from her. The killing was a love triangle of sorts, except it was something she says Randy wanted no part of, involving bigamy.

Randy McCullar thought he found a catch when he met Shonda Johnson. Once described as a Barbie doll, she seemed like the girl next door. "She fooled everybody," said Randy's nephew, Matthew Bradshaw.

It wasn't long until Randy's family started seeing the cracks. "He'd come home from work and couldn't find her so he go hunting, calling. Then about 1am or 2am she'd show up. It just was the same thing, and he told her he couldn't live like that anymore.  She took off, hunting her another man," remembered Betty McCullar.

Literally she was looking for another man while still married to Randy.  Shonda married two other men while married to Randy.  One died. The other man was Timothy Richards.

When Randy found out he filed bigamy charges and sought custody of their infant son. It was a move that would cost him his life. Shonda and her now fifth husband, Richards spent weeks coming up with a plan.

Then one night in November of 1997 Richards slashed one of Randy McCullar's tires.  When Randy pulled over to change the flat, Richards shot him in the head.

"It was such a brutal murder, just unnecessary," said Betty McCullar. "To run him down, shot him down, killed him, and  left him laying there in the church parking lot. Went off and left him. He laid there in the freezing rain until 8 am the next day. They just drove off left him lying there, no more than if he was an animal."

After a few moments Betty composed herself, then moments later our newscast came on, showing the family for the first time the prison cattle ranch where Richards has been staying. "Here we are thinking he's behind bars serving his sentence for murdering my brother and here he is having freedom to run around a beautiful place like that and just to do whatever he wants to do, and people don't know where he is" said McCullar's sister Melissa Bradshaw.  "It's ridiculous."

A minimum security facility for a killer, a decision this family will never understand. "He has no care for human life," said Betty McCullar.

The family does not feel Richards escaped on his own. They believe someone is helping him. They also feel he is still in the state. They hope someone sees him and turns him into authorities. They also ask that anyone with rural property with cabins or barns to check them to see if anyone could be hiding out there.

Copyright 2012 WBRC. All rights reserved.