Columbia Police arrest two suspects for slaying of homeless man

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | 3:08 p.m. CST; updated 5:18 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia Police arrested two suspects Tuesday in connection with the Oct. 23 slaying of an area homeless man.

Ricky Lee Gaddy, 57, of Columbia, and Travis Grant Birkhead, 49, also of Columbia, were arrested on suspicion of first-degree armed criminal action and first-degree murder for the death of Jerry Edward Schneider.

Cash bonds were set at $1 million for each suspect. 

On Oct. 24, Schneider's body was found in the parking lot of the old Everett's restaurant at Range Line Street and Interstate 70, according to a Columbia Police news release. 

Based on an autopsy and evidence gathered at the scene, police believe Schneider, 55, died as a result of being hit on the head with a blunt object and then stabbed.

Police said Birkhead told them he was walking with Gaddy on Oct. 23 near Rangeline and Interstate 70 when Gaddy told him he was going to kill Schneider.

Birkhead told police he saw Gaddy pick up a large, rock-like object. After the two men found Schneider passed out, Birkhead said he saw Gaddy hit Schneider with the rock-like object multiple times until Schneider stopped breathing. Birkhead then stabbed Schneider, according to police. 

Columbia Police public information officer Jill Wieneke said the police found the two suspects after their names surfaced during the lengthy investigation.

"We did a lot of interviews, and there was a lot of elimination, but their names kept coming up," Wieneke said. 

Columbia police arrested Gaddy at 804 Moon Valley Road at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Deputies with the Camden County Sheriff's Department and Columbia police arrested Birkhead in Camden County around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the release. 

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Chip Leaver January 19, 2011 | 3:42 p.m.

I would love to see the video of that confession.

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