Alabama man arrested 18 times charged with killing woman who bailed him out of jail

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Larry Copeland knew when his sister could not be reached as June faded into July that something was terribly wrong.

“My sister calls everybody every day,” Copeland told WAFF in Huntsville, Alabama, of his sister, Sharon Michelle Copeland. “She might not go two days without calling my mother, and then we have always had a connection, but I felt like I didn’t have it anymore.”

Copeland’s fears were confirmed when Sharon Copeland, who had last been seen leaving her home on June 30, was found dead in Tennessee. According to the Elk Valley Times, the missing woman’s remains were found in Flintville on July 27, nearly a month after she vanished.

The rural area of Lincoln County where she was found is about 30 miles from her home in Huntsville, Alabama.

Huntsville police officials on Monday charged Charles Price Preston, 29, with murder in connection with Sharon Copeland’s killing. Preston is being held in the Madison County Jail, where records show Monday’s arrest is the 18th time since 2011 that he has been booked into the facility.

Copeland was reported missing just two weeks after Preston had been bailed out of jail for the 17th time.

According to Larry Copeland, his slain sister was the person who bailed Preston out.

“(He was a) guy that she met through her son in prison,” Larry Copeland told WAFF. “You know, she gave him the benefit of the doubt. She bonded him out of jail. She was good to him.”

Sharon Copeland’s Facebook page indicates she had an ongoing romantic relationship with Preston long before his last stint in county jail. In multiple posts from last September, she professed her love for him.

“Charles Preston, my heart n soul,” she wrote on Sept. 6. “Ride or die. Always have, always will. Keep your head up, baby. I got you.”

Charles Preston my heart n soul. Ride or die. Always have always will. Keep your head up baby I got you

Posted by Sharon Copeland Hardee on Thursday, September 5, 2019

Madison County Jail records show Preston had been arrested in late March 2019 on charges of assault and probation violation or revocation. He was released from county jail on those charges in July 2019.

It was unclear if he was freed or sent to state prison for the probation violation. His last booking before Copeland’s disappearance, on June 11, indicates he was back from prison to make bond. He was released on June 15.

In another Facebook post from last fall, Copeland described Preston as “a true blessing.”

In March, she appeared to lament her son being in prison.

“Be grateful for those in your life and thank God daily for everything the good and bad,” she wrote. “I will hold tight out here for you son! Mama is sad, but we will get through this somehow. God will give us that.”

Her final Facebook post, in April, was a fundraiser to help a friend make bond and pay for a lawyer.

Larry Copeland told WAFF his sister would help anyone in need.

“She meant the world to the family,” Copeland said. “She was always there if someone needed her.”

WAFF combed through court records to find details of the arrests that put Preston behind bars so many times. The majority of his arrests involved drugs, theft and probation violations.

Bout that time

Posted by Charles Preston on Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In several of his booking photos, his face is gaunt and riddled with sores. Skin picking is a common symptom of drug abuse.

A few of the court records indicate some violence in Preston’s past, WAFF reported. He was arrested for rape in June 2010, at age 19, but the charge was dismissed that December.

Two years later, an attempting to elude and reckless endangerment case was dropped. A March 2017 robbery case was later dismissed as well.

His now-ex-wife accused him during their 2014 divorce proceedings of mental and physical abuse, the records showed.

Preston was accused in March 2019 of attacking a man with a knife, the news station reported. He was indicted on a charge of second-degree assault in February.


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