33-year-old Christopher Wayne Madison of Collinsville, Alabama was arrested and charged in the death of 11-year-old Amberly Alexis Barnett. Christopher Madison, the Alabama man accused of strangling to death 11-year-old Amberly Barnett, pretended to help search for the girl after she was reported missing, court testimony revealed.
On the night Barnett was reported missing, Madison claimed he had searched a wooded area behind his DeKalb County home without finding any sign of the missing girl, an investigator testified. But hours later, on the morning of March 2, the DeKalb County sheriff’s office found Barnett’s strangled body lying in the woods with a blue rope around her neck.
Madison, 33, is charged with capital murder in Barnett’s slaying. He appeared in DeKalb County District Court for a preliminary hearing on Monday afternoon. Judge Steven Whitmire ruled prosecutors have probable cause for the capital murder case.
Barnett is from Georgia, but she had been living with her aunt and aunt’s boyfriend in the Mount Vernon community of DeKalb County since this past summer. Madison lived with his girlfriend in the mobile home next door on County Road 822. Madison’s girlfriend and the boyfriend of Barnett’s aunt are siblings.
On the evening of March 1, Barnett stayed home alone while her aunt and aunt’s boyfriend went shopping, Investigator Davis testified. When the family returned, Barnett was missing. The sheriff’s office was called to the scene around 7:30 p.m.
Madison claimed he saw a dark Dodge Durango pull into the driveway at Barnett’s home. But Davis testified that neighbors never saw the vehicle and other evidence contradicted Madison’s story about the SUV.
When authorities were searching for Barnett, Madison claimed he already checked the woods behind his home without finding the girl, Davis testified. It was dark outside, and sheriff’s deputies didn’t find Barnett’s body during searches that night. Around 6:30 the next morning, authorities found her body.
On a tree in the woods, investigators found a long blonde hair, Davis testified. Nearby, in what appeared to be a path where the body was dragged, authorities found a sock that was believed to be Barnett’s, Davis testified. The girl was wearing only one sock when they found her dead.
Inside Madison’s home, Davis testified, investigators found a bloodied pair of his jeans in the dryer. There was blood in the bathroom sink and on the walls, mattress, bed frame and a sheet of paper in a bedroom.
Authorities haven’t said why they believe Madison killed Barnett. Madison had an “interest in bondage,” Davis testified, citing Madison’s girlfriend and children. Inside Madison’s home, investigators found a clamp and a bolt in the floor that allegedly had been used previously as part of his “interest in bondage.” Davis didn’t provide further details about the bondage. Investigators and DeKalb County Chief Deputy District Attorney Bob Johnston left the courtroom without granting interviews to members of the news media.
When police showed Madison’s girlfriend a picture of the blue rope that was found around Barnett’s neck, the woman said the rope had been inside their home the day before, according to Davis’ testimony. Another piece of blue rope was found wrapped around a knife in the backyard of Madison’s home, Davis testified. In interviews with investigators, Madison admitted the knife was his.
Authorities said they don’t yet have the results of forensic testing to be performed on the blood and other evidence found at the scene. That evidence also includes a black hair that was found on Barnett’s body, Davis testified.
Defense attorneys Brian White, of Decatur, and Jake Watson, of Huntsville, declined to comment.
Alabama court records don’t show a criminal record for Madison, who previously lived in Georgia. A search of court records in Cobb County, Georgia didn’t reveal a criminal history.
However, a woman in DeKalb County, Alabama last year sought a protection from abuse order against Madison. In court records, the woman alleged that Madison had hit her in the head with a hammer, punched her in the face, smacked her head on the floor and strangled her to the point she passed out. A judge dismissed the petition when the woman and Madison failed to show up for a court hearing.
If convicted of capital murder, Madison faces either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.