ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Thanks to the efforts of multiple agencies across two states, a “person of interest” in the death of a Foley man last October is now being charged with murder in …
ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Thanks to the efforts of multiple agencies across two states, a “person of interest” in the death of a Foley man last October is now being charged with murder in connection with the homicide.
Nicholas Ryan Young, 35, of Gulf Shores, is now being charged with murder in connection with the death of 53-year-old Ronald Jeffery Higginbotham, who was found stabbed to death Oct. 30 in the Bay Villa Apartments of South Bay Street in Foley.
“We want to take this opportunity to send our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Higginbotham’s family,” said Foley Police Chief David Wilson, chairman of the Major Crimes Unit of Baldwin County’s Board of Directors, “and to let them know that we have done everything possible and will continue to do everything possible to see this case through to conclusion.”
A press conference was held Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department’s investigations office at the Central Annex II in Robertsdale which included Wilson, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack Jr., Lt. Andre Reid, commander of the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit, Baldwin County District Attorney Robert Wilters, and assistant District Attorney Theresa Heinz.
Higginbotham was found dead in his apartment by a maintenance employee, according to an MCU release issued shortly thereafter. Higginbotham’s death was ruled a homicide, the result of stab wounds.
After an initial investigation by the Foley Police Department, the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit was activated to investigate.
The Major Crimes Unit is activated in Baldwin County for one of three reasons, Wilson said, an officer-involved shooting, the death of a suspect while in custody, or a homicide where a suspect has not been immediately identified.
“This case would fall into the last category,” Wilson said.
More than 30 officers participated in the investigation through the MCU, including Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputies, members of the DA’s office, and officers from municipal agencies throughout Baldwin County, partnering with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to process forensic evidence.
“The MCU brings together different officers with different backgrounds who all bring a different perspective to the case,” Reid said. “This arrest could not have been made without the collaborative effort between many agencies. This investigation and arrest is an example of what can be accomplished through cooperation.”
Without a clear suspect, Reid said, officers began collecting evidence and canvassing the area, interviewing anyone who might have information in the case. An appeal was also sent out through the media asking for information regarding the case.
“Much of the evidence collected came back to good old-fashioned police work,” Reid said. “I could not express my appreciation more for the work they did in solving this case.”
As a part of the investigation It was discovered that a vehicle belonging to the victim was missing. Young was identified as a suspect and a large-scale search for him was conducted. In response to questions, Reid said, as far as they were able to determine, Young and Higginbotham were not longtime friends.
“I would describe them as acquaintances,” he said. “We don’t believe they had known each other for very long.”
On Nov. 29, a deputy with the Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department was able to locate Young and the vehicle was recovered. The vehicle was examined, and evidence was collected from the vehicle, Reid said.
Young was arrested on charges of first-degree receiving stolen property. He was then extradited back to Alabama and booked into the Baldwin County Corrections facility on Dec. 23 on charged of first degree receiving stolen property and held as a detainer for hold. A charge of murder was eventually added. According to reports, a $200,000 bond was added Friday to the already $75,000 bond on the receiving stolen property charge, bringing Young's total bond to $275,000. He is listed as being in jail on the Baldwin County Corrections Facility website.
“Initially, Young resisted extradition, but later he didn’t,” Wilters said. “We are continuing to investigate this case and will bring all of that evidence before a grand jury as soon as possible.”
Reid said Young is not currently being charged with capital murder, pending further investigation. Officials would not comment on specific evidence collected or to whether or not they thought Young had help. No one else is currently being charged in the case. Reid said, in his estimation, Young has not been a cooperative participant in the investigation.
Wilters said they continue to ask for assistance from the public in providing additional information regarding the case.
“If you know anything at all that might be connected with this case, please contact us,” Wilters said. “It could be something you initially thought was insignificant, but now think it may be important.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Foley Police Department, 251-943-4431, or the Major Crimes Unit, 251-937-0210.