Overview of Dalton Rollins
"Family, friends recall loving mother and 2 beautiful boys." The Anniston Star - 9/18/02
Everybody pretty much knows everybody when you live in a small town, and with a population of less than 3,500 and only 16.31 square miles, Heflin is one of those towns. When something as horrible as a triple homicide occurs somewhere like Heflin, it rocks the very foundation of the community and leaving behind aftershocks that can still be felt today, especially when the victims were a young pregnant mother and her 6-year-old son.
"She was just always smiling, just a good person. Her little boy, he was so precious." Debbie Clark, owner and director of Kiddie Castle, The Anniston Star 9/18/02
23-year-old Monica Pritchett Rollins had two sons, 6-year-old Dalton and 2-year-old Aaron, and was awaiting the arrival of her third son in just a few weeks. Monica and the boys had moved into their Sugar Hill Road home in mid to late 2001 after she and and Jeremy Rollins, her high school boyfriend and Dalton and Aaron's father, decided to separate and file for divorce.
On Friday, September 18th, Monica's father Donald Pritchett had anxiously awaited quitting time because it meant Monica and the boys would be arriving at his home in Anniston and he could finally give Dalton his gift, a foal Dalton named "Mojave." The evening was filled with horseback riding, playing, dinner and conversation before Monica and the boys headed back to their Heflin home around 8:30 p.m. with plans to return later that weekend.
However, when the weekend passed without any further word from Monica, a relative decided to go check and make sure everything was all right. When they arrived at Monica's mobile home the morning of September 16th, nothing could have prepared them for what they found. Monica and Dalton had been brutally murdered inside their home.
It was the worst thing I've walked into this day," Heflin Police Chief AJ Benefield to The Cleburne News, 9/27/15
Early press reports indicated that Monica and Dalton had died from stab wounds received at some point over the weekend. The assault caused Monica to go into labor, and her unborn child was found partially delivered and deceased. 2-year-old Aaron was found alive and unharmed inside the home.
That same day, Jeremy Rollins ended his 12-hour shift at Southwire around 6:00 p.m. and headed home. He wouldn't learn about the deaths of his former wife and his oldest son until a few hours later when officers arrived and asked him to come down to the station.
"It was unbelievable. There's where I was at, somebody was telling you something that you just can't believe." Jeremy Rollins, The Anniston Star, 9/17/15
According to officials, Rollins was quickly ruled out as a potential suspect and was cooperative throughout the investigation.
Very few details are known about the murders even years later as officials say there are key facts that only the perpetrator would know. Despite that, Capt. Joe Nabors of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation confirmed early on that DNA, fingerprints and other evidence had been collected at the scene and sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science for analysis. At the time of the murders, ADFS was facing serious backlog issues due to budget constraints, which created a delay in processing.
The investigation into the brutal and tragic murders of Monica and Dalton Rollins continues today. In 2023, in a comment to Alabama Cold Case Advocacy, Capt. Scott Bonner of Heflin PD provided the following update: I want to thank everyone for their support and prayers for this precious family. This case is near and dear to our community and Police Department. The case was reopened almost 2 years ago by Chief McGlaughn and myself, Captain Scott Bonner. We have resent multiple items to forensics labs both private and state. We continue to keep close contact with some of the family members and try our best to provide support as much as we can. Although I can’t go into specific details due to the ongoing investigation, I will say there is a suspect and evidence. There is no threat to anyone from the suspect in this case at this time. The suspect, who I cannot name yet is in jail in another state for unrelated crimes. We, along with the District Attorney’s Office, Center for Applied Forensics and other agencies has put in hundreds of hours developing evidence, suspects and witnesses. I ask everyone to continue to pray for the family and law enforcement. I also ask everyone to please allow the family to have some privacy while we continue to work on this case. We apologize for it taking so long for details to come available but, as anyone knows, evidence resubmission takes longer than expected. Again, thank y’all for your support and especially your prayers. And as soon as a development comes available, we will share it. God bless, everyone, and be safe.