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Officials plan exhumation of victim in '77 murder

GUNTERSVILLE (AP) — Authorities plan to exhume the remains of a man found murdered in North Alabama in 1977 in hope of determining whether the victim, who was never identified, may be related to a family that came forward after seeing a recent TV news report about the mystery.

Dean Kellum of Athens said he feels like the body is that of his brother, Bobby Kellum, who disappeared at age 18 after leaving his home in Limestone County 30 years ago. Kellum saw a recent report on the decades-old killing on WHNT-TV and contacted Marshall County officials.

Kellum said he and his mother, Wilma Hicks, have agreed to provide a DNA sample to see if it matches DNA to be taken from the remains, buried at Arab City Cemetery with a grave marker that has no name, just a date of death.

Kellum hopes authorities can find the killer if the remains are found to be those of his brother.

"They need to be brought to justice," he said.

Bobby Kellum was never seen again after he and a girlfriend from Anniston told relatives they were going to the race track in Talladega, Kellum said. When Bobby failed to return, Kellum said he figured his brother was in trouble with police because he was on probation for writing bad checks when he left.

A few weeks after the May disappearance, he said, Kellum's girlfriend wrote Hicks saying he had left her by hitchhiking and wanting to know if he made it home.

Meanwhile, on May 18, 1977, passersby found an unidentified murder victim at Marling Cemetery near Albertville. The victim had been covered in yellow paint, his throat had been cut and a liquid had been poured on him that burned off his fingerprints, said former Marshall County chief deputy Lacy Galloway.

An autopsy revealed the victim probably had been killed elsewhere and placed in the cemetery two or three days later, he said.

"We worked on (the case) for months," Galloway said. "We also ran (notices) nationwide every anniversary (of the body's discovery) for the first 10 years."

After last week's TV report aired, Dean Kellum said, a woman telephoned and said his brother had stayed with her and her sons for a few months. He said the woman wanted to remain anonymous because "his killer could still be out there."

The conversation motivated him to meet with Sheriff Scott Walls, Kellum said. He saw photos of the victim's body that bore a resemblance to his brother, including similar builds, boots and a tattoo.

Galloway said after seeing the photograph, he is confident the remains were those of Bobby Kellum.

"I believe that's him," he said. "It looks like the body we got."

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Information from: The Huntsville Times, www.al.com/hsvtimes/hsv.html

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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