Police: Atmore man confesses to murder

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fire damage to the roof of a home on Adams Street is visible hours after the blazed claimed the life on the resident.

Fire damage to the roof of a home on Adams Street is visible hours after the blazed claimed the life on the resident.

A 60-year-old Atmore woman described died in a house fire early Saturday morning — and later that day Atmore police arrested and charged a convicted felon with her murder.

Collis McCaster, 40, of Atmore, confessed to the crime, police said Tuesday, after the suspect volunteered for and took a polygraph test. He was charged with capital murder in the death of Mildred Jackson Morris, along with first-degree arson and first-degree sexual abuse, police said.

After a neighbor reported smoke early Saturday morning, Atmore firefighters and police responded to Morris’ home at 227 Adams St. at about 5:20 a.m.

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Police said the neighbor attempted to enter the home, but all entrances were locked.

Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said the fire was extinguished within 10 to 15 minutes of firefighters’ arrival on the scene.

Police said the state fire marshal was called to the scene to help determine the origin of the fire. When Mrs. Morris’ body was moved, police said, it became clear that officers were working a crime scene.

The Department of Forensic Science in Mobile is investigating the cause of Morris’ death.

Police said McCaster was identified as a person of interest and was taken into custody later in the day Saturday on a felony warrant from Conecuh County. McCaster was transported to Foley Police Department after he volunteered to take a polygraph test, police said.

Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean said Tuesday the Foley Police Department was used because of the convenience and accuracy of their polygraph program.

Polygraph tests are not admissible in court in Alabama unless both sides agree to it.

McCaster was arrested in 2004 after leading Atmore police officers on a high-speed chase. He was taken into custody and accused of robbing Country Store on Highway 84 in Evergreen at gunpoint. In that case, McCaster was charged with robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Dean said McCaster had been in trouble with local law enforcement in 1990s and told officials Saturday he had been convicted of the 2004 robbery in Concecuh County.

McCaster has been transported to the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton, where he is awaiting a bond hearing.