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Body positively identified, one suspect arrested

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
A body found in a shallow grave in McDavid last week has been positively identified as Alford Douglas Nichols, 50.
Deputies and investigators with the Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff's Department suspected the body was Nichols and even made an arrest in the case before the ID was done.
Investigator John Sanderson said Friday that, according to the autopsy, Nichols' death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head. He added that investigators are fairly certain they know what instrument was used but are not releasing that information.
Two brothers are believed to be responsible for Nichols' death.
David Comalander, 36, was arrested Monday and charged with accessory after the fact to murder and principal in the first degree to arson.
Harold Reagan Comalander, 39, is a suspect but has not been charged. The State Attorney's office is reviewing the case due to Comalander's disability. The suspect was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident just days after Nichols disappeared in April 1999. Comalander, who was driving a stolen car at the time of his accident, resides in a medical facility in Pensacola.
David Comalander remained in the Escambia County Jail Friday.
Nichols was discovered missing last year after his house on Roach Road in McDavid burned. The fire marshal's office was unable to locate him. Following that, his van was discovered on a creek bank in Escambia County Ala. Sanderson said it appears the brothers killed Nichols at his house, then burned it to destroy evidence.
They buried his body in a wooded area behind their mother's house on Cox Road in McDavid. Then they drove his van to Robinsonville and abandoned it.
Investigators had been working on the case for 18 months and finally got a break when they received information about the murder.
Sanderson said according to Nichols' family, he was never one to go away for a long period of time. He regularly talked to family and friends.
When his van was found, when he failed to pick up social security checks, when he failed to get in touch with them, they felt certain he was the victim of foul play, Sanderson said.