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Valley murder victim remembered


Renee Nancy Eldridge
Renee Nancy Eldridge
By Alton Mitchell

Monday marked a point of closure for a life taken too soon from this earth.

Renee Nancy Eldridge of Columbus, GA was laid to rest Monday afternoon at Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus. The 25-year-old woman’s body was discovered last Tuesday in Osanippa Creek near Hopewell Road in Valley. Days before she was reported as missing and those close to her felt that she had been kidnapped.

The discovery of her body in the Chambers County waterway led to the worst possible outcome for those closest to Ms. Eldridge. However in her tragic passing the world has been given a glimpse into a short lived life of a woman who enjoyed it to the fullest and was loved and cherished by those closest to her.

Renee Eldridge was born in October of 1989 and lived each day of her life to the fullest. The way she lived has left a legacy which is displayed by those whom remember her in the greatest of times.

She was a graduate of Shaw High School in Columbus 2008 and was pursing her educational aspirations at the University of Phoenix pursuing a degree in business and accounting. In addition to reaching for academic heights in life she worked as a property manager at Cooper Village Apartments.

The day the discovery of her body residents, friends, and family had planned to gather at the apartment complex where she worked at to hold a vigil in hope of her safe return, but were met with the devastating news of the body’s discovery and later positive identification.

Those closest to her came from all walks and backgrounds of life, but all spoke of her in a highly positive light. A former coworker named Alexandra said, “she was one of the sweetest people I ever met, an angel on earth”.

This type of memory was mimicked over and over again. Her personality was one which would be able to pull her into a crowd and be welcomed like she was a lifelong friend.

Renee Eldridge was last seen early Sunday morning July 5th, after being dropped off at her 46th Street home in Columbus by friends following a night out on the town. Family members became concerned the next morning when they discovered her missing and her room in a less that organized fashion. .

As crews at Parkhill Cemetery laid the young Ms. Eldridge to her final resting place, investigators in Alabama began the process of offering family members additional closure by naming a suspect in the case and announcing that arrest warrants had been issued for that suspect.

The suspect has been identified as 45-year-old Stacey Demar Gray. Gray is a native of the Columbus-Phenix City area. He stands 5’9” tall and weights around 205 lbs.

The United States Marshals Service was in pursuit of Gray in Macon County, Alabama on Monday afternoon. Marshals attempted to arrest Gray at a traffic stop in Macon County near Notasulga that afternoon, but he was able to flee into nearby woods and Marshals pursued him into those woods.

Other law enforcement agencies in that area were also assisting in the search for Gray who is considered armed and dangerous and law enforcement encouraged those near the search area to avoid contact with the suspect if they came near him. Luckily for those residents the manhunt ended around 12:30 a.m Tuesday morning when the announcement came that Gray had been arrested and was in police custody.

Gray has a warrant for murder in Valley to answer for immediately and may have additional charges filed in vari