CrimeTracker: Murder still unsolved a year later

George Allen Nickols

A little over a year ago a Rocky Mount man was mysteriously murdered in Jefferson City.

A year later, police are still looking for clues in an effort to figure out what happened. KRCG News investigated the case and uncovered some new details about this unsolved murder.

On a rainy Saturday, dozens of mourners gathered. Among them, Roxanne Nickols, whose son, Al, was brutally murdered a year ago.

Al Nickols, 31, was stabbed in the stomach on Aug. 16, 2008. The cut so deep it punctured his spine.

A year later friends, family and police are still looking for answers.

A lot of people know what happened, Nickols said. Nobody's stepping forward.

'Nothing's Adding Up'

His family and friends called him "Big Al." A construction worker and outdoorsman who loved to fish, almost as much as he loved the Chicago Bears.

Al was killed during the early hours of Aug. 16, 2008. His mother Roxanne only knows what happened at the beginning of the day.

"All I have are bits and pieces of stories," Nickols said. "Nothing is adding up, Nickols said.

She picked Al up from his construction job in Owensville and drove 55 miles to Jefferson City so he could hang out with his friend Joe Garnett. (See an interactive timeline that breaks down the events of the day)

Garnett says they went out drinking and ran into some friends at Jaymees, a local bar. One of those friends was Todd Rose. Those at the bar said Rose was carrying around and showing off a very large, "Rambo-like knife."

After the bars closed the group of about a dozen or so, went to an after-party at a cobble stone house on West Atchison.

Garnett said everything was fine when he left with his wife around 2 a.m. But he does remember seeing two neighborhood men. He said he saw two guys from the party arguing with them, saying they stole a flashlight from one of their trucks.

Garnett didn't confront them but police said some more people at the party did, which resulted in some sort of an altercation.

We don't know if Al was involved in the original altercation or came out to break up the fight. Either way, around 2:30 a.m. he was stabbed in the stomach with a knife so long it punctured his spine.

The autopsy report shows he died "within minutes" with "massive blood loss."

Next to his Al's Holts Summit grave is a rock that says, "Love leaves a memory no one can steal."

A late night snack

The murder sent people scattering. Police said Al's friends would have walked right past his dying body as they headed off to Country Kitchen for a late dinner.

The decision to leave the party and go to diner baffled Garnett and veteran Jefferson City police Capt. Michael Smith.

"If I had lost a friend just an hour or so before, " Smith said, "I think breakfast would be the last thing on my mind."

Family members, and police, say no one who was at the party will say what they saw.

"Nobody can say they know what happened? There's nothing?" Garnett asked, sitting on the steps of the West Atchison house.

One of the people at the party was Reba Hodge. She showed up at the rainy candlelight vigil this past Saturday. She said she had nothing to hide but backed out of an interview with KRCG.

Todd Rose, who was seen with a knife that night, was arrested that same night after police found him alone in the house without his shirt and without his knife.

Police didn't have enough evidence to charge Rose and let him go. His knife still has not been found.

Smith said there would have to be a suspicion around everyone who was at the house that night.

Until we know exactly what happened," Smith said, "Everybody is a suspect."

Nickols said she has an "enormous" amount of questions. With many of them still unanswered, she said she'll keep searching, vowing not to stop.

"I'll never be able to stop," she said. "Until we know exactly what happened to him."

There is a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Call Jefferson City police at 573-659-TIPS