Murder suspect Stacey Demar Gray was apprehended in Macon County, Valley police said. The release states that officers from the Notasulga Police Department and the Macon County Sheriff's Office apprehended him after he fled a traffic stop in Notasulga near Cooper Road when officers tried to arrest him for the murder of Renee Eldridge.
Valley police said Gray was found by local residents in a yard on Lily Lane in Notasulga and held at gunpoint until police took him into custody at 12:45 a.m. ET. Gray was armed with a semi-automatic pistol, according to a release.
Gray was charged with the murder of Renee Eldridge and placed in the Chambers County Jail, officials said. Columbus Police said they are "looking into" also charging Gray, but Detective Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick declined to release any further details concerning the matter.
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Why were police looking for him?
Authorities said two separate witnesses came forward on the morning Eldridge's body was found, July 7, and told police that at two different times during the weekend of July 4 they saw a black male in a dark SUV parked at the bridge where Eldridge was found. One witness said the man was leaning over the bridge looking at the water, police said.
Valley police said they learned that Gray owned a dark SUV with the same partial tag number given by witnesses. Investigators said they also discovered evidence "in plain view within the vehicle," though they have not said what that evidence is.
Police said they interviewed Gray and were able to disprove much of his alibi, allowing them to execute search warrants for his vehicle and Russell County address. Evidence found at his address led to the warrant for his arrest, according to the release.
When police received a tip that Gray and his brother were in a vehicle in the Notasulga area, they attempted to stop the vehicle, according to the report.
Police said Gray, a passenger in the vehicle, fled into the woods. His brother, whose name has not been released, stayed in the vehicle and was arrested for possession of a firearm by a felon after 10 weapons were found in the vehicle, according to the release.
Reynolds said the suspect was known as an acquaintance to Eldridge's family.
The agencies involved in the search were the Valley Police Department, Columbus Police Department, Macon County Sheriff's Office, Russell County Sheriff's Officer and the U.S. Marshals Office.
K9s and helicopters were used in the manhunt.
Authorities are hunting for 45-year-old Stacey Demar Gray, wanted in the homicide of Renee Eldridge.
A warrant charging murder has been issued for Gray, who's from the Columbus-Phenix City area, officers said.
Gray is 5-foot-9 and weighs 205 pounds, they said.
U.S. Marshals were tracking Gray today and tried to arrest him at a traffic stop in Macon County near Notasulga, but Gray ran into the woods where authorities still were searching for him.
Renee Eldridge, 25, went missing over the Fourth of July weekend. Her father Ricky Eldridge said his daughter was last seen at approximately 3 a.m. July 4 when friends dropped her off at her home on 46th Street.
He said her mother, Nancy Gray, who lives with Renee, discovered her daughter was not home at 10:30 a.m. and her room was in disarray.
On July 7, the body of Renee Eldridge was found in Osanippa Creek off of Hopewell Road, according to Valley police. Police said the Columbus woman had died of blunt-force trauma to the back of the head. No further details have been released.
According to her obituary, Nancy "Renee" Eldridge was born Oct. 4, 1989, in Columbus, daughter of James Ricky Eldridge and Nancy Gail Gray. She graduated from Shaw High School in 2008 and studied accounting at the University of Phoenix. She worked as property manager at Cooper Creek Village Apartments and attended the Cornerstone Church of God.
Survivors besides her parents include brother James Eldridge, sister Nicole Eldridge, paternal grandmother Barbara Eldridge and maternal grandfather Steve Gray, all of Columbus, and a beloved pit bull named Medusa.
Staff writer Tim Chitwood contributed to this report.