By Toni Stauffer
On Sunday evening, Jan. 7, a passerby noticed flames coming from the house at 62 Silver Run Drive in Seale, Ala and called 9-1-1 at around 9:53 p.m. Seale Volunteer Fire Department and other responders arrived within three minutes of the call to find the home fully engulfed. Once the fire was extinguished, two bodies were found inside, almost burned beyond recognition. William Perry, 65, (2/16/53) and Deborah Peay, 50, (5/16/68) were believed to have died in the fire. Their bodies were sent to state forensics lab in Montgomery for autopsy. Autopsy results received on Monday, Jan. 8 revealed that Perry and Peay had been killed by gunshot wounds before the fire had been set.
“This is a case where we’re in the middle of the investigation, so it’s very early onset of finding out what actually killed our victims,” Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said at the Jan. 9 press conference held at 10:00 a.m. “We were unable to see any types of wounds or marks on the bodies until they got to autopsy. We have a couple of suspects and a couple of different leads we are working. Hopefully, we’ll be able to turn that into some solid suspects and arrest warrants in the next few days.”
Taylor would not comment on location of the wounds or bodies due to the ongoing investigation, but did say investigators recovered two small caliber shells. Burn patterns and meter readings indicated the use of an accelerant, which began in the living room and spread throughout the home. Lab results on the accelerant are pending. Since the home is located behind a gas station, investigators are examining video recordings from the station for a possible lead.
“There’s just not a lot in their history that says an obvious motive,” Taylor said.
Peay moved to Russell County two to three years ago from New York. Perry was a Russell County native, but lived in New York for fifteen years. He retired from Walmart and moved back. The couple rented the house.
A two-door silver 2001 Honda Accord registered to Peay is missing. The car was reported by family as having mechanical problems. Anyone with knowledge of the car’s whereabouts, tag #57DB175, or any information regarding the case, is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 334-298-6535. Both families of the victims have been contacted. Motive for the double homicide is unknown at this time.
“The main thing about any case like this is closure for this family,” Taylor said. “We want to bring to justice whoever has committed this for both William and Deborah, but we also want to bring closure to this family. That’s important to us at the Sheriff’s office, and we’re going to work extremely hard to that.”