Suspects Detained in Quadruple Homicide; More Help Needed

Birmingham, Al (WBMA) -- Birmingham Police are detaining two men in the city jail Saturday in connection with the brutal killing of a family of four. Sergeant Scott Praytor said detectives were still on the streets, searching for "several more persons of interest."

The suspects already in custody are 18 and 19 years old. Praytor stressed the need for continued cooperation from members of the public in tracking down anyone else connected to the deaths of Derrick and Elizabeth Witherspoon and her two young children, Jerome and Justin.

The family members were found dead in their home in the Grasselli Heights neighborhood early Thursday morning.  They had been shot to death, and their home had been set on fire to cover up evidence in the crime. Praytor said some of the tips police have received so far indicate Derrick Witherspoon was chased through the neighborhood by one or two cars the day before the homicides were discovered.

Chief A.C. Roper highlighted the killings in his weekly Crime Stoppers report, urging people to use the anonymous crime reporting program to provide information.  He referenced the chase, asking anyone who saw or heard anything unusual to provide a tip. "Your knowledge could be crucial to helping us carry out justice in this case," Roper said.

He also asked if the Witherspoons had recently expressed any concern for their safety or whether any disputes with other people had taken place.  Roper also urged the public to provide information on any reason someone may have targeted the family.