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Two-Year Murder Investigation Yields Arrest

After 2 1/2 years, Visalia Police arrest 54-year-old Michael Huckaby. Police say he murdered his girlfriend back in 2011.

After more than 2 1/2 years, Visalia investigators say they finally have enough evidence to arrest 54-year-old Michael Huckaby for the death of his then girlfriend, Jaime Atkerson.

Ron Shankles manages the mobile home park in Visalia where the couple lived. He knew Atkerson (who was in her late 20's) well.  He said she moved into Huckaby's mobile home after selling hers. 

Police said Huckaby and Atkerson were the only two inside the mobile home when they were called to the scene back in 2011. Police said Huckaby told them he walked into the bathroom and found Atkerson in the tub.  He removed her and placed her on the floor of the bathroom and that's where police found her.

"Well at the time I thought maybe she had just got drunk and passed out in the bath tub," said Manager at Mooney Grove Mobile Home Park, Ron Shankles.

But other friend's had their suspicions.  One woman who wanted to remain anonymous said Atkerson would never have taken a bath under the influence of alcohol. She said Atkerson often used to show up at her mobile home claiming Huckaby beat her.

"And she would show me bruises on her ribs, on her back, around her neck. He would chase her to her friends house just to make her go back home," said the anonymous woman.

Michelle Hutchenson just moved in across the street from Huckaby's home and said it's scary because she never suspected a thing.

"When my husband was gone, he would bring the trash in when I would take it out in the morning. As far as I knew he was watching the house," said Hutchenson.

Police said, it may have taken years, but many detectives worked tirelessly to piece together the case that finally led to an arrest.

"We can call this a cold case, but in reality, it was always on the investigators' minds," said Visalia Police Department Sergeant, Ozzie Dominguez.

Some residents say they can sleep a little easier knowing huckaby is behind bars.

Huckaby is being held at the Tulare County Jail.  He's not currently eligible for bail.

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