A Chambers County murder case from this past summer that has gripped the headlines of two states has proven to grow even larger over the past week. New evidence was brought to light last Tuesday as Stacey Demar Gray appeared before a Chambers County Judge. The evidence that came out at the hearing was enough to show that probable cause exists to push the murder charges against Gray to the next level.
In July a young woman from Columbus, Georgia was reported missing over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Only days after her disappearance from her 46th Street home in Columbus investigators over thirty miles away discovered her body in Osanippa Creek near Hopewell Road in Valley. Investigators from Valley worked closely with detectives from Columbus to see if the body they had found belonged to 26-year-old Renee Eldridge. Forensic evidence was used to determine that the body discovered in Valley was that of Eldridge.
A week following the July 7th discovery of Eldridge’s body in Osanippa Creek investigators had developed a suspect. The suspect was a 45-year-old man who was identified as Stacey Demar Gray whom had multiple address ties to East Alabama and West Georgia. Investigators were hot on Gray’s trail pursing him by vehicle and foot through Macon County, Alabama in a more than 10-hour manhunt that took resources from several local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Gray was taken into custody and brought back to Chambers County to face charges related to the gruesome death of Eldridge. On Tuesday the true extent of the brutality of Eldridge’s death was brought to light in the courtroom.
The details behind the death of Renee Eldridge were horrific in the description that was given in the courtroom. Evidence was presented that suggested prior to her death Eldridge was bound and tied with nylon rope. Evidence also suggested that a cement block was used as a source to conceal her body in Osanippa creek as a sinker that was also tied to her face down body at its discovery.
Before being disposed of in the creek it is also believed that suspect Gray kidnapped, raped, and ultimately beat Eldridge to death. The relationship between Gray and Eldridge as well as her family goes back beyond the July kidnapping and murder of the young woman who friends described as energetic yet a people person. In the hearing on Tuesday DNA evidence collected from suspect gray showed that his DNA was a match to those of a suspect in 2014 rape case of Eldridge from December of 2014. In that case an Army Ranger from Fort Benning was arrested and held in custody for nearly three months before DNA evidence released him as a suspect.
Evidence has also surfaced to show that Gray was a friend of the Eldridge family even having a sexual relationship with the mother of Renee Eldridge at times. The family viewed him with a lot of trust and he was believed to even be in possession of a key to the Eldridge home. On the night of July 4th when Renee Eldridge disappeared Gray, along with Renee Eldridge and her