Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Very Similar to the Charles Manson Type Murders"

It was 1976, the nation's bicentennial--red, white, and blue were ubiquitous colors, but it was the blood red marking the walls of Ronald Perryman's apartment in Tuscaloosa that brought Charles Manson to mind. Tuscaloosa homicide detectives were initially baffled by what they found at the murder scene, and the case has never been solved.

Perryman was a Florence native who had attended the University of North Alabama before traveling to Tuscaloosa to study social work at the University of Alabama. While at UNA, Ronnie had been a popular student and had served for a time as Leo, the university's mascot.

After enrolling at UA, Perryman sublet an apartment at the Duncan House on Reed Street. It was there that the Florence student met his death less than three months after arriving in Tuscaloosa. Finding the door to Perryman's apartment unlocked, a neighbor discovered the body on Saturday June 6th; he had been shot in the head and upper chest with a .38 calibre handgun.

Perryman had not been seen alive in four days, and the time of his death was never established with any exactness. There were no similar questions about the brutality of the crime; detectives found epithets on the walls of the apartment...written in the victim's blood. It was in an interview 12 years later that investigators termed the slaying a "Manson type murder."

Investigators finally narrowed the suspects to two men. One of these suspects has never been found. The second and more likely suspect was a long-time friend of Perryman who initially cooperated with the Tuscaloosa detectives. Later this former UNA student left the state and eventually denied even being friends with Perryman.

It has now been over 34 years since Ronald Perryman was brutally murdered, and we may never know the identity of his killer. Yet the killer knows his guilt and carries it with him every day. Let's hope this guilt will eventually lead to justice for Ronnie and the loved ones he left behind.