Chelsea man accused of March 5 homicide

COLUMBIANA – Authorities have arrested and charged a Chelsea man with the March 5 murder of another Chelsea resident.

Randall Anthony Gargone, 62, who lists an address on Woodbridge Trail, was taken into custody by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, March 9, and charged with capital murder.

According to court documents, Gargone is accused of killing 68-year-old Tracy Ward Austin at his residence on the 5800 block of Shelby County 39. Gargone allegedly used a hammer and a knife to strike and stab Austin.

Gargone

Austin’s body was discovered by SCSO deputies at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 5, and the case was turned over to investigators. Shortly after Austin’s death was ruled a homicide, the SCSO asked for the public’s help in finding new information and identifying a suspect. A $5,000 reward for information was offered by CrimeStoppers of Metro Alabama.

According to a press release from the SCSO, Gargone has previously been convicted of several felony offenses, including armed robbery.

At a press conference held at 4 p.m. on March 9, Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego said Gargone was hired to work as a handyman by Austin’s family several months prior. While a specific motive has not been determined, Samaniego said investigators suspect that Austin’s murder was the result of a robbery gone wrong.

Capital murder is a Class A felony. Gargone could face up to life in prison if he is convicted.

Gargone is currently being held at the Shelby County Jail without bond. His case was assigned to Shelby County District Court Judge Daniel A. Crowson Jr. As of March 9, the date for his preliminary hearing had not been scheduled.

Samaniego thanked the deputies and investigators, as well as civilians who sent in tips and information related to the case.

“We asked anybody in Shelby County who had anything, no matter how insignificant they thought it, to bring it forward. A couple of the tips were very important. Quite a few tips came in, and I was really appreciative,” Samaniego said. “Of course, that is the goal of the Sheriff’s Office, just to engage with the citizens and make them feel like they’re part of the community. It makes our job a lot easier.”

He also expressed his condolences to Austin’s loved ones.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of the Austins. Mr. Austin, his mother and brother lived at that location,” Samaniego said.

A March 9 press release from the SCSO stated that the homicide will be investigated “all the way through prosecution,” and encouraged anyone with additional information on the crime to contact the SCSO at its main line at 669-4181, its secret witness line at 669-9116 or online at Shelbyso.com.

“There may still be witnesses who have not come forward for any number of reasons,” the press release read. “We still want to talk with anyone who has any information about Mr. Austin’s murder.”