Search for McDavid man ends at grave
Published 9:17 am Wednesday, September 27, 2000
By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Skeletal remains believed to be those of a McDavid man missing for 18 months were unearthed in McDavid this week.
Another McDavid man has been charged in connection with the death and charges may be pending against the suspect's brother.
Monday, Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department deputies and investigators located the grave containing remains they believe are those of Alford Douglas Nichols who was reported missing April 23, 1999.
According to a statement by Sgt. Tony L. Bain of the Sheriff's Department, David Lee Commalander, 39, Cox Road, McDavid, was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact murder and principle first degree arson. He was booked in the Escambia County Jail without bond.
Investigators have received information which indicates that Harold Reagan Commalander, 26, is possibly the individual responsible for Nichols' death, however, the investigation is continuing since officers have received conflicting statements from witnesses. No charges had been filed Tuesday afternoon against Harold Commalander, and the State Attorney's Office was assisting with the investigation and reviewing the evidence.
Two days after Nichols' disappearance, Harold Commalander was involved in a traffic accident while driving a stolen vehicle. As a result of injuries sustained in the accident, he was paralyzed from the neck down. He is currently in a medical facility and poses no threat to the citizens of Escambia County, according to Sgt. Bain.
Nichols' grave was found when information received by investigators led them to search a large wooded area off the 1600 block of Cox Road in McDavid. The area is located behind the house once occupied by the Commalander brothers' mother.
A cadaver search dog from Escambia Search and Rescue located the grave site approximately one-quarter mile from the roadway.
Sheriff's Department personnel were still excavating the grave Tuesday morning. The remains had not been removed from the gravesite, and deputies have been posted to protect the site at night.
Investigator John Sanderson has been working on the case since Nichols was reported missing last year.
Apparently, Commalander and another man killed Nichols at the victim's home on Roach Road, just off Highway 29, Sanderson said. The two men drove Nichols' 1979 Ford Econoline van to a dirt road adjacent to the Weldon Vickrey Bridge on County Road 27 near Robinsonville and abandoned it.
Nichols was discovered missing when his home burned April 24 and the fire marshal's office tried to locate him concerning the fire. He was last seen the day before.
Sanderson said it appears the arson may have been a means of destroying any evidence from the murder.
The motive for the murder is believed to be robbery.
The remains will be sent for autopsy to confirm the identity and cause of death.
Anyone having information regarding Nichols' death is asked to contact Investigator Sanderson or Investigator Frank Fillingim at 850-436-9580 or Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at 433-STOP.