Ernest Russell Douglas
Birth: March 11, 1936
Death: October 8, 1981
Spouse: Earline Douglas Sims Ward (1938 – 2016), Burial: Springhill Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery, Gordon, Houston County, Alabama, USA
The Dothan Eagle
Matt Elofson – May 5, 2011
Debbie Griswold watched her father’s burial on her 16th birthday after a gunman shot him to death during a convenience store robbery.
But she and her family recently received the first taste of justice after Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton announced charges in the near 30-year-old murder of Ernest Russell Douglas.
At the age of 45, Douglas was shot at the Northview Amoco Station at 3033 Reeves Street on Sept. 26, 1981. Benton said Douglas died from his injuries on Oct. 7, 1981. Benton announced charges brought recently against a Dothan native in the murder.
“The arrest is a way of honoring our father and to bring justice for him,” said Lisa Doswell, one of Douglas’ children. “It’s a step in the right direction and we’re very grateful.”
Debbie Griswold said she hopes the charges filed in her father’s murder will help give hope to the victims in other cold case homicides.
“We’ve been praying for this for 29 years. It’s satisfying,” said Tim Douglas, another of Ernest Douglas’ children. “We still got a long road to go until we get a conviction, but we’re still praying. I had just turned 18 years old the day before, and he was buried on my little sister’s birthday.”
Benton said a Houston County grand jury returned an indictment this week charging 57-year-old Nathaniel Dennis with capital murder robbery. Benton said the indictment came after investigators received a hit in a national DNA database.
Dothan Police Sgt. Will Glover said a hit in the Convicted Offender DNA Index System helped identify Dennis as a potential suspect. Benton said police learned Dennis was already serving a prison sentence in Virginia.
Benton said that earlier this year investigators traveled to Sussex County in Virginia to interview Dennis. In March of this year, investigators received results from the state Department of Forensic Sciences that indicated a match with Dennis’ DNA to evidence collected from the crime scene in the murder. Benton and Glover said they could not identify the evidence tested that linked Dennis to the murder because he still needed to go to trial.
Glover said Dennis is currently serving a 634-year prison sentence for attempted murder and robbery in Virginia.