Atmore woman murdered
Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2006
By By ADAM PRESTRIDGE – For The Standard
A former Atmore resident was a victim of a gruesome murder Saturday night outside a South Carolina church.
Carma Russell, 31, moved to South Carolina from Atmore in September 2005 after meeting her boyfriend, Billy Nathan Lee, on the Internet. Lee is now being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, S.C. charged with shooting Russell in the face outside Atlantic Beach Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlantic Beach, S.C.
As of Tuesday, Lee, 47, remained incarcerated awaiting a bond hearing, which could be held within the next week.
Russell worked as a certified nursing assistant for four and half years while living in Atmore. She left with the intentions of making a better life for herself after splitting with her estranged husband, Terry Rudolph, who still lives in Atmore with one of the couple's four children.
Russell's murder has not only shocked the Atlantic Beach community, but her former co-workers in Atmore.
According to published reports, Russell and Lee broke up earlier in the week and moved out of the couple's apartment into her pastor, Rev. Windy Price's home. The Price family took Russell and her children to church Saturday evening around 6:40 p.m. for a church play, according to police reports. Lee made contact with Russell from across the street upon their arrival and she went to speak with him. When she arrived at his black van, he knocked her to the ground and pointed a gun at her head, fatally shooting her.
Rudolph, who along with several members of Russell's family traveled to Atlantic Beach, took custody of his other three children following their mother's death. He too said his estranged wife wanted to restart her life in a different town.
According to South Carolina and North Carolina arrest records, Lee was convicted and served 180 days for contempt of court in 1983. From Jan. 1986 to July 1987, he was on probation in North Carolina for the unauthorized use of a conveyance, which he was convicted of in 1985. Lee violated the terms of his probation and served six months in the North Carolina prison system from July to October 1987.
In 1989, a string of burglary and grand larceny charges were brought against Lee in South Carolina. Lee received a 10-year sentence, but did not serve the entire sentence in jail. In 1995, he was imprisoned in South Carolina for burglary and larceny on a 15-year concurrent. He also had another 20-year concurrent sentence for similar charges. He was released last year after serving about half his sentence. Lee is also listed on the South Carolina Sexual Offenders Registry for a sex crime he committed in North Carolina.
According to several former educators, Russell attended school in Atmore. It is unknown when her family will return to Atmore or if any funeral arrangements have been made.