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No bond for Huntsville man after wife, girl, go missing

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — A federal judge Tuesday ordered that Barry Whitton, whose wife and 11-year-old stepdaughter have been missing for nearly a month, be held without bond on a weapons charge.

At a detention hearing, prosecutors gave U.S. Magistrate Judge Harwell Davis a letter concerning Whitton's mental condition and Davis ordered he be held without bond, said Jill Ellis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office.

Whitton, 38, was arrested Thursday on charges that make it a crime for a convicted felon to possess firearms. Four rifles and a shotgun were confiscated when federal agents searched the rural northeast Alabama property.

The purpose of Tuesday's hearing, which Whitton attended, was for Davis to determine if authorities could continue to hold Whitton, who has not been indicted on the charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Whitton was convicted of receiving stolen property in 1988 and 1991.

An affidavit filed in federal court described the five weapons found on his property last week.

Separate charges

Authorities have said the weapons charges are not related to the search for Whitton's wife, Kim Whitton, 36, and her 11-year-old daughter, Haleigh Culwell, who have been missing since Kim Whitton left her job at a Scottsboro nursing home on June 21.

The affidavit, filed in support of the warrant to arrest Whitton, said authorities initially went to his home
in the isolated Macedonia community of Jackson County near Section on July 3 to ask Whitton if they could search his property "in regards to his missing wife and stepdaughter."

Whitton gave his permission, the affidavit said. At that time, the affidavit said, investigators observed "three to four long guns" in a closet in the residence and found another gun on a wall in a smaller house on the property.

Federal, state and local investigators returned Thursday with a search warrant, confiscated the weapons and arrested Whitton.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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