SHELBY (AP) — The man charged five years ago with killing an 11-year-old Shelby girl more than 40 years earlier has died without a trial that many in the city hoped would resolve the case.
Thurman “Soupy” Price, 83, died last weekend, The Shelby Star reported. Price was charged with first-degree murder in 2007, a year after the Shelby Star published an extensive series about the case that police said led to several tips including an alleged accomplice’s deathbed confession.
Brenda Sue Brown was 11 years old when she disappeared after walking her little sister to school in 1966. Her naked body was later found covered with branches, and police said the girl had been beaten to death with a rock.
Price’s attorney and daughter said he died an innocent man since those accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Price was hoping to clear his name and end the whispering of neighbors, said his daughter, Niki Trager. Without a trial, Trager said she fears he’ll be forever known as a child-killer.
“I still want his name cleared,” Trager said Monday while sitting on the front porch of her father’s Shelby home. “I want my daddy vindicated.”
Brown’s family believes police arrested the right man.
The Star published a 13-part series in 2006 about Brown’s murder, then a cold case. Shortly after the series started, a Cleveland County woman told police about her grandfather’s deathbed confession. The dying man, Earl Mickey Parker, reportedly told his granddaughter that he and Price killed Brenda Sue together.
Price was scheduled for trial several times since his arrest, but that never happened.
“The waiting game was hard,” said Patricia Buff one of Brenda Sue’s sisters, “because you never knew when the phone was going to ring.”
Price’s attorney, David Teddy, declined to describe what prevented Price’s case from coming to trial. District Attorney Rick Shaffer did not answer questions about Price’s case.