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Rod Spraggins at the Chambers County Jail in Lafayette on Friday.
AP Photo by Rob Carr
Rod Spraggins at the Chambers County Jail in Lafayette on Friday.

Ex-candidate: Dream led to accusing foe of murder
Lanett police say he was right, file charges

By Jay Reeves
Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM — More than five years ago, Rod Spraggins made a sensational charge at a candidate forum, publicly accusing a political opponent of murder with nothing to back up the allegation except, it turns out, a vision.

Now police say Spraggins was right.

Barry Waites, Spraggins' opponent in the 2000 race for Lanett City Council, was arrested this week on murder charges in the 1998 slaying of his wife, who was found dead in their split-level home in this sleepy town of 8,000 along the Georgia line.

In 2000, Spraggins, a bail bondsman, stunned a crowd of 100 when he accused Waites of killing his wife and dared the man to sue him for slander if he was wrong. Waites was not at the forum, never responded publicly to the accusation and never sued.

In an otherwordly turn to the saga Friday, Spraggins disclosed that he never had any evidence to make the accusation and that it was based entirely on Mrs. Waites' appearing to him in a series of dreams.

"She started appearing to me within the first weeks of her death," said Spraggins, adding that the dreams prompted him to enter the City Council race for the sole purpose of making the accusation.

Both he and Waites lost their bids for the City Council amid the controversy, but Spraggins said he got what he wanted in the end.

"I hate it for his family. . . . I hate it for Charlotte's family. But I'm glad justice is finally going to be served," he said in a telephone interview.

Waites, 58, was arrested Thursday at a clothing store he runs with his current wife. He was jailed on $150,000 bail. It was not immediately known whether he had hired a lawyer.

Police Chief Ron Docimo would not comment on exactly what led to the arrest, saying only that it was a "culmination of years of following up on leads and tips."

Waites was serving as interim mayor when 49-year-old Charlotte Waites was found strangled and with a blow to the head.

The victim's brother, Gene Brown, said police told him within a week of the slaying that Waites was the prime suspect. Brown said that the couple had numerous financial problems during their 28-year marriage and that he believes an argument over money resulted in her death.

In 2002, Waites was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty in an ethics case that was uncovered during an investigation of his wife's killing. He admitted taking money from a National Guard armory where he worked.

Brown credited Spraggins with keeping up public pressure on police to solve the murder case.

"Rod had it pegged from the beginning," Brown said. "I had doubts about his methods. But he's got guts."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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