Prominent Luverne couple laid to rest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Nearly two weeks after one of Luverne's most prominent couples was brutally murdered at their Montgomery Garden District home, police have still not made an arrest.

Saturday, Winston "Brent" and Charlotte Springford were laid to rest at Emmaus Cemetery, while members of the Luverne Police Department and Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department stood guard alongside U.S. Hwy. 29 to give family and friends privacy during the emotional service.

"I was at the graveside service and I didn't realize all the stuff that they had done for

the county," Crenshaw County School Superintendent Kathi Wallace said.

Unless you were family or a close friend of the Springfords, many people didn't know all that the couple had contributed to the growth of the City of Luverne as well as

Crenshaw County. They didn't expect any recognition for their good deeds.

As owners of Pepsi Bottling Company of Luverne, the Springfords provided all of the scoreboards at Luverne's recreational facilities including Edward L. Turner Park and Person to Person Recreational Park. The company also furnished all of the concession stands with the equipment needed to operate including coolers, display cases and ice machines.

"The big thing that they did for us was any time we had a special event they would always make sure the children had drinks," Luverne School Assistant Principal Doug Brown, who served as Luverne Parks and Recreation Director for 15 years, said. "They were very community-minded like that. They were really involved. It is the same way here at the school. The things they did, they did them very inconspicuously."

Brown also said Pepsi provided all the maintenance on the equipment at no cost.

The Springfords were also willing to help any cause throughout the county.

Wallace, who is the former principal at Brantley School, recalls the Springfords bending over backwards for the school's football team when they advanced to the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Class 1A Super Six championships in back-to-back seasons in 1998 and 1999.

"They would load us up with Pepsi products and fruit drinks to carry to Birmingham," Wallace said. "We would stay three nights in Birmingham and we didn't have to buy any refreshments because they loaded us down with ice chests full of drinks ready to go."

Pepsi also provided all the scoreboards on each of the schools systems' football fields, as well as Crenshaw Christian Academy.

"Whatever we asked Pepsi, within reason, they always came through," Wallace said. "They (the Springfords) were always a help to us in Crenshaw County and always agreeable to help us fund projects. I never remember asking Pepsi for something that did not come through."

Brent and Charlotte's contributions far exceeded their duties as businesses owners.

Charlotte chaired the University of Alabama's School of Communication and Information Science's Board of Visitor's and the Alumni Board. She was also a member of the President’s Cabinet and this past winter she received the Dean’s Medal for exceptional service. Along with Brent, the couple made the lead gift and chaired the school's Campaign for Forensics, which netted over $400,000.

"We lost some wonderful people," Dean Cully Clark said. "It's a terrible, horrible tragedy. Charlotte has been one of the best personal and professional friends I have ever had. When you say Charlotte, you say Brent, it's always Charlotte and Brent, and together they were incredibly supportive friends."

Clark stated that more than 25 graduate students list themselves proudly as Springford Scholars, because of the generous support Charlotte and Brent made available each summer in memory of their first daughter, Charlotte Stephanie Springford.

"There are no two people you'd rather be around," Clark said. "They were very, very warm and caring, they enjoyed people and they were among the best conversationalist you'll ever want to know. I think I'll miss that the most, not being able to talk with them."

Charlotte received her undergraduate, bachelor's and masters from the University of Alabama in communication's studies and English. Brent graduated from the University of Idaho. Charlotte is also a published author and landscape designer.

As for the status of the double homicide case, Montgomery Police Department spokesperson Lt. Scott Martino said the department is still in the "investigative stages."

"We still have our detectives in Colorado and they're following up on leads there," he said. "Then of course we have our detective working here in coordinating back-and-forth between us, the district attorney's office, our detectives in Colorado and authorities in Colorado. We still have not signed warrants, we're not at that point yet, but we are continuing the investigative phase, shifting through evidence we recovered."

Late last week, the Springford's son, Brent Springford Jr. was named the cases sole suspect after originally being considered a "person of interest."

"We have not ruled out the fact that there may be more than one person involved," Martino said.

Springford Jr. is said to have admitted himself into a Centennial Peaks Hospital in Louisville, Colo. last week where he has been undergoing psychiatric care. The hospital is about 50 miles from the Greeley, Colo. home his parents bought for him in 2001. He apparently contacted WSFA, channel 12 out of Montgomery twice in the past week where he informed listeners via telephone that he was distraught over his parent's death, had admitted himself into the hospital and was angry with other family members.

"We haven't confirmed that it was him (on the phone)," Martino said.

The Montgomery Police is still withholding what weapon was used in the murder or the point of entry the killer used the Thanksgiving night at the Springford's home located at 1944 South Hull Street.

Martino said he doesn't have a timeframe of when an arrest would be made in the case.

"We want to conduct this investigation to the best of our ability," Martino said. "We want to make sure that we've done everything right and make sure that when we do come to the time for warrants that they stick."