Georgetown Man Arrested in 1967 Arkansas Cold Case Murder - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Georgetown Man Arrested in 1967 Arkansas Cold Case Murder

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James L. Clay (Photo: Georgetown Police Department) James L. Clay (Photo: Georgetown Police Department)

GEORGETOWN, Del.- It is an arrest 47 years in the making.

An Arkansas murder went nearly five decades without being solved, leaving a family with nothing but questions. Now police believe they have found the person responsible for the death more than 1,000 miles away in Georgetown, Del.

The murder happened in 1967, when police say current Georgetown resident James L. Clay allegedly killed the victim, James Ricks, who was 27-year-old at the time, in Jackson County, Ark. All of this allegedly followed a robbery Clay participated in with his brother, according to police.

Decades later, many of Clay's neighbors on Waples Drive in Georgetown said Clay's arrest on Tuesday can be described in one word: shocking.

"I'm completely shocked about that," said neighbor Ronni Mullen of Georgetown.

Mullen said that Clay's home had some suspicious - maybe even criminal activity present - but she said that something of this scale never crossed her mind.

"For it to be so close to home," she said, "it's almost disturbing. Because I never would have though that of him. And I say - he just seemed like an older, quiet man that was living out his retirement."

Clay was well-known at the Georgetown Police Department. Police said Clay, who is now 67, had built up a long list of prior arrests in and outside of Delaware, including bank robbery. Interim Georgetown Police Chief Ralph Holm said Clay would often boast about his past crimes, including robberies .

"He was a frequent flyer for us," Holm said.

It was Clay's talking that eventually got him into more trouble. In 2012 he was serving time at the Sussex Correctional Institution when officials said he began bragging about the Arkansas murder to a cellmate. This information would eventually lead to his arrest for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

"He would come up with these stories," Holm said. "And you would just be like, 'Wow, this guy is really out there.' And then you find out he spent time in jail for bank robbery. So then you're like, 'Is he really out there? Or is all this stuff true?'"

Clay is also charged with being a fugitive from another state. He is currently being held at the Sussex Correctional Institution, awaiting an extradition hearing. 

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