Monday, October 8, 2012
October 3, 2009, marks the University of North Alabama's homecoming. This year's theme is Leo. No, not the male lion housed with his female companion on campus, but those who have donned the lion's suit over the years. We know with certainty that one Leo will not be there.
Ronnie Perryman was a Florence native who attended UNA in the early 1970s. A large, outgoing young man, Perryman was perfect for the role of the university mascot, a position he held for two years before transferring to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
By the mid-1970s, Perryman was living alone in an apartment complex near the campus. It wasn't unusual for the sociology student to be without contact with his family for days at a time. No one knows the exact hour that Ronnie Perryman died, murdered in his own apartment. Crime scene investigators theorized he had been dead a week when his body was found.
Tuscaloosa authorities have never solved Perryman's murder, although they periodically request any new information the public may have concerning the brutal crime. Since Ronnie's death, both his parents have passed away, still waiting for some answer to their many questions. After 35 years, there may never be an answer as to who killed Ronnie Perryman. We hope he's remembered on October 3rd with the others who have played Leo over the years. He deserves no less.
It was 1976, the nation's bicentennial--red, white, and blue were ubiquitous colors, but it was the blood red marking the walls of Ronald Perryman's apartment in Tuscaloosa that brought Charles Manson to mind. Tuscaloosa homicide detectives were initially baffled by what they found at the murder scene, and the case has never been solved.
Perryman was a Florence native who had attended the University of North Alabama before traveling to Tuscaloosa to study social work at the University of Alabama. While at UNA, Ronnie had been a popular student and had served for a time as Leo, the university's mascot.
After enrolling at UA, Perryman sublet an apartment at the Duncan House on Reed Street. It was there that the Florence student met his death less than three months after arriving in Tuscaloosa. Finding the door to Perryman's apartment unlocked, a neighbor discovered the body on Saturday June 6th; he had been shot in the head and upper chest with a .38 calibre handgun.
Perryman had not been seen alive in four days, and the time of his death was never established with any exactness. There were no similar questions about the brutality of the crime; detectives found epithets on the walls of the apartment...written in the victim's blood. It was in an interview 12 years later that investigators termed the slaying a "Manson type murder."
Investigators finally narrowed the suspects to two men. One of these suspects has never been found. The second and more likely suspect was a long-time friend of Perryman who initially cooperated with the Tuscaloosa detectives. Later this former UNA student left the state and eventually denied even being friends with Perryman.
It has now been over 34 years since Ronald Perryman was brutally murdered, and we may never know the identity of his killer. Yet the killer knows his guilt and carries it with him every day. Let's hope this guilt will eventually lead to justice for Ronnie and the loved ones he left behind.
The above article was taken from Shoalanda Speaks dated September 7, 2009, and December 29, 2010.