HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — One day after being released from a work release camp, Benjamin Nowell became a suspect in a shooting in Webb that claimed the life of his former girlfriend.
Brittany Phillips was coming home from a party Thursday morning and she was stopped by her ex-boyfriend Nowell.
Authorities say Phillips was giving someone a ride home from a party when she was followed by Nowell.
When Phillips and Nowell turned on Knowles Road, Nowell hit Phillips’ car to stop it.
“She got out of the vehicle and was going to call 9-1-1,” Houston County Sheriff, Donald Valenza said. “He backed up, pulled right next to her, and while he was in the car he shot her.”
According to friends, Nowell and Phillips dated for 14 months and then Phillips left Nowell.
“He was a crazy ex-boyfriend that kept stalking her and wouldn’t leave her alone,” Phillips’ close friend, Shane Crum said.
Authorities say after the shooting took place someone called in the shooting, but when deputies arrived the suspect at large, Nowell was gone. They believe that Nowell got an almost two-hour headstart and after almost a day of searching, they located Nowell.
“This manhunt yesterday was one of the largest I’ve ever been on,” Sheriff Valenza said. “It lasted about 11 and half hours.”
Crum says that Phillips was a mother of three and that she did whatever it took to take care of them and that when someone would meet Phillips they wouldn’t forget it.
“Brittany was always one that when you were around her would bring a smile to your face,” Crum said.
Crum worked with Phillips at Allied Fence and had last seen her on Monday night.
“Tuesday night didn’t get her and I tried to get her Wednesday, all day Wednesday, and could never get a hold of her,” Crum said.
This is still an open investigation with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office as they are learning more information on the case. They believe the motive to be a domestic incident and friends believe this was an act of jealousy.
Sheriff Valenza said that no matter what the manhunt cost the department they were going to get justice for Phillips.
“I don’t care what the cost is,” Sheriff Valenza said. “We had a murder that cost a person their life. We are going to use all of the resources we can.”
Nowell has been charged with capital murder and records show that he has had previous run-ins with the law, including several possession of drug charges and receiving of stolen property charges.
Nowell is currently in the Houston County Jail and Sheriff Valenza say they still have some search warrants to execute to get a hold of the murder weapon.