Note: Last week the Courier spoke with Theresa Lingard, the sister of Ernie Walthour in the hopes that new information could be uncovered in the death of her brother on July 1, 2013. This week we feature our conversation with law enforcement officers of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, who continues to investigate the case.
Sitting on top of Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sike’s
desk is a small reminder of an unfinished task.
“Every time I look at it I’m reminded we still have a job to do,” Sikes said about the picture of his friend Ernie Walthour.
Walthour was killed on July 1, 2013. On April 3, Sikes met up with the Courier at the home where the well-known youth mentor and basketball coach was found dead, the victim of an alleged robbery. The Sheriff said standing on the spot where he last saw his longtime friend stirred up memories and also a little bit of anger.
“What a useless waste of a human life of a man who was so determined to help this community,” Sikes said. “It’s just heartbreaking that somebody hasn’t come forward yet.”
Sikes said he vividly recalls the night he got the call.
“I personally couldn’t believe the call I was hearing…this was in the wee hours of the morning and it probably took me all the way from my house to Midway to realize what I had just heard,” he said. “It was devastating not only to myself but my wife and the rest of my family.”
When the news broke in 2013 the community banded together and Sikes collaborated with the City of Hinesville Police Department, forming a joint task force to solve this case as well as others.
The Sheriff said they interviewed hundreds of people, followed just as many leads and investigated a few people of interest but the case eventually went cold.
“I started working at the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office in March 2017,” Michael Albritton, General Crimes Detective said. “The sheriff came to me to review the case with a fresh set of eyes around July of that year. The case has never been closed. We do not close homicides. We’ve been actively pursuing this case.”
Standing at the residence where the murder occurred Albritton went over the crime scene. He said the call came in at 12:40 a.m. July 1, 2013.
“The deputies responded to what was originally called in as a drive-by shooting,” he said. “When the officers arrived they discovered an individual who was later identified as Ernie Terrell Walthour, a 46 year old male. He was found deceased here in the front yard.”
Albritton said witnesses told deputies that Walthour’s car was also parked in front of the house, near where his body was discovered. Witnesses reporting seeing Walthour’s vehicle being driven off the front yard, turning right on Lewis Frasier Road. An hour later the car was found further down the road off a side street. Albritton said the motive appears to be a robbery. Walthour was at the house playing cards and was seen with money as he left the home.
“Somebody out there knows what happened and we are appealing to the community for somebody to come forward with the information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person who did this,” Albritton said. “They need to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”
Albritton said he hopes that someone who may not have been forthcoming six years ago will come forward today. Or perhaps someone who has since heard something will also come forward. He noted no information is trivial.
He also noted that the LCSO recently had the case reviewed by a professional profiler The detective said it has opened some new leads he thinks could lead to solving the crime.
And Sikes said he plans to see this case to the end.
“It’s going to stay open forever,” Sikes said. “Somebody sooner or later is going to tell us and give us a lead…we need to put somebody behind bars for this.”
Anyone with information on the death of Ernie Walthour is encouraged to call 912-391-1500.