When Nicholas Hawkins’s mother reported him missing on Valentine’s Day, she told authorities that he had called her to say someone wanted to kill him and hadn’t been heard from since. Police later found his body wrapped in a blanket in an area the county coroner referred to as an “illegal dump site.” Hawkins had been shot.
Authorities quickly focused in on Joshua Adam Reese, 21, the man identified by Hawkins on the phone during their conversation. Arrested in a neighboring county on an outstanding failure-to-appear warrant, Reese has now been identified as the gunman who killed Hawkins. Prosecutors have charged Reese with capital murder.
“Reese shot and murdered Hawkins,” Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood told reporters, but refused to give the motive for the slaying. Police have recovered the murder weapon and say Hawkins was not shot in his car nor in the spot where his body was found.
Two other suspects are also charged with murder in the case, but Underwood would only say that neither of the two pulled the trigger. “I can’t go into what role they played in this case,” he said.
Three other people, including Reese’s mother, have also been arrested for hindering the prosecution of the gunman and rendering “criminal assistance.”
“I completely feel like I’ve been in a nightmare. I mean a horror movie nightmare getting chased by my worst enemy and they didn’t get me. They got my brother,” Hawkin’s brother, Jacob Hawkins, told AL.com. “I’d sunk. I about died. My heart just shattered.”
“This may sound far-fetched and comical but I’m not being comical at all. Saturday night, I felt his presence leave from me. Me and him were so close. I know that sounds crazy. But I knew Saturday night that Nicholas was gone.”
Hawkins left high school after being bullied about his sexual orientation. He was two weeks away from getting his GED and planned to attend a cosmetology school after earning his certificate.
Jacob Hawkins said he had one message for his brother’s killer. “May God have mercy on your soul. That’s all I can say. And if not God, may the people in jail have mercy on your soul because good things don’t happen to bad people.”