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Headlines – 5/6/2003

The Panolian Headlines: May 6, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 5/6/03  issue of The Panolian


Man, 84, Slain in ‘Home Invasion’
Wife Shot; Sheriff Seeks Help From Citizens
    
Mississippi Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Alan Thompson, right, talks on his cell phone while other law enforcement officers, including Sheriff’s Investigators Craig Sheely, left, and Mark Whitten, center, gather on Woodruff Road Sunday morning while working the murder case.
    
BY KATE B DICKSON
EDITOR


Panola Countians are being asked today to help solve a brutal murder of an 84-year-old Courtland man and the wounding of his elderly wife.

What is being worked as a "home invasion" claimed the life of Alvin Herring who was shot once in the head, said Panola County Sheriff David Bryan.

Herring’s wife, Verlena, 75, was shot in the arm. An artery was severed and the bullet lodged in her chest, the sheriff said.

"These were just fine, upstanding Christian people," Bryan, who has known the couple most of his life, said. "Mr. Herring never bothered a soul in his life.

"If anyone has any information about this we’d like for them to call us," Bryan said. "Callers may remain anonymous if they wish."

The sheriff’s department number is 563-6230.
Bryan said he and detectives are working with a theory in mind as to the motive but weren’t revealing that on Monday.

No arrest had been made as of press time and the sheriff said that’s where the public can help if they have any knowledge about who may have committed the crime.

There was no forced entry into the couple’s home at 2411 Shiloh Road, he said. A small road beside Shiloh Baptist Church leads to the neat white home that’s trimmed in black and has a large blooming rose bush out front.

Monday morning the sheriff said he did not know how many perpetrators there were and also didn’t know if anything other than the car was stolen.

"We won’t know some things until we can talk with Mrs. Herring," Bryan said. "We understand she is being kept sedated right now."

At mid-morning Monday, Bryan said he was about to leave to go see Mrs. Herring
    


The Herrings Have Never Hurt Anyone
    
BY MYRA BEAN
SPORTS EDITOR


BATESVILLE – "Why would anyone want to hurt them?" is the main question which has been asked in the murder of Alvin "Mr. Alvin" Herring and the attempted murder of his wife Verlena "Miss Tin."

The Herrings were shot in their home Saturday evening. The news of the shooting has rocked the county from one end to the other.

"Mr. Alvin" was 84 years old. He would have been 85 in June. He was well-known and loved throughout the county.

The house sits behind Shiloh M.B. Church on Shiloh Road in Courtland. Mr. Alvin worked at Dunlap and Kyle for many years before his retirement. Even after he retired he would return to help clean up around the place until a stroke stopped even that small amount of work.
"I missed him when he stopped singing," said long time friend Sadie Harrison.

The Herrings are members of Salem M.B. Church which is about a mile down Highway 51 S from their house. Harrison plays the piano and said Mr. Alvin’s two favorite songs were "I Need to Pray In Season and Out of Season" and "When I Read My Title Clear."

The Herrings have been a part of my life before I was born. A week does not go by that they visit our house or someone in our family visits their house.

Since Mr. Alvin’s stroke, my dad would visit with them at least twice a week.

"They always had both doors locked when I went there," Master Bean said. "If Tin was not near the door or in the kitchen, Alvin would holler from inside, ‘Alright, I’ll be right there.’"

Bean said they always kept those doors locked and he believes the person(s) who shot the Herrings are known to them.

Upon hearing about what happened to the Herrings, neighbors, friends and family have commented about how those two have never hurt anyone. They would help out anyone they could.

William Boyce Crowell reminisced about some times he had with Mr. Alvin and his brother, the late Russell Herring.

"I would see them sitting side-by-side and ask which one was which," Crowell said laughing. "I knew. I was just joking with them. This hurts my heart. He was the nicest man I ever knew."
    


‘It Could Have Been Me’
Woman Recalls Incident At Her Home
    
BY KATE B DICKSON
EDITOR


Tosha Bishop didn’t know the victims of Saturday’s murder and shooting in Courtland but she was drawn to the scene where yellow crime tape told the grisly tale.

"I’m standing here looking at this and it could have been me," Bishop said as she watched emergency workers place the body of Alvin Herring into an awaiting ambulance.

Herring was killed and his wife shot in the arm and chest Saturday during what Sheriff David Bryan said was a ‘home invasion.’ (See related story above).

Bishop joined a group of others Saturday night outside the well-kept white house in Courtland as sheriff’s deputies continued to work the murder scene.

It was about two months ago, Bishop said, that two black men wearing ski masks kicked in the door of her nearby home on Carlisle Street and robbed her at gunpoint.

The robbers, she said, have never been caught.
The 27-year-old mother said her husband was not at home and her baby was asleep when the men burst into her home.

"They had a gun and got in my face with it. They told me they’d kill me if I didn’t quit hollering," she said. "They tore up my house. They didn’t get big stuff. They got some jewelry and got my billfold."

Bishop says she doesn’t know for sure but she thinks, from the quickness of the vehicle leaving, that there was at least one more person involved – a getaway driver.

Bishop said she moved to Courtland about 18 months ago to be near family.

Now, she says, she’s not sure she wants to stay.
    


 
   

Grand Jury Indicts Couple
on Four Tax Fraud Charges
    

BY KATE B DICKSON
EDITOR


A Batesville couple who own and operate convenience stores in Sardis and Como have been indicted by the Panola County Grand Jury on state tax fraud charges.

Zeyad Y. Adieh and Emitayaz A. Adieh, 209 Elm Road, each face four criminal counts – two each for personal income tax violations and two each for sales tax violations, court records show.

The couple own and operate Mimi’s Quick Stop No. 1 in Sardis and Mimi’s Quick Stop No. 2 in Como, said Mike Morgan, criminal investigator for the Mississippi State Tax Commission.

Reached at the Sardis store and asked to comment on the charges, Emitayaz Adieh said, "We have a big, huge comment about it. It’s ridiculous what’s going on. I’ll be honest with you about that."

Morgan, who testified before the grand jury last month, told The Panolian, "We are happy the grand jury agreed with the state tax commission."

The Adiehs, who were indicted in April, are free on $25,000 bond each, according to Morgan and court documents.

The couple continue to operate both stores.

The criminal counts allege the couple:

… did make false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations about their personal income for the year 1999
… did make false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations about state sales tax for the time period of May 1999 through Dec. 1999
… did make false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations about their personal income for the year 2000
… did make false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations about state sales tax for the time period of Jan. 2000 through June 2000.

In addition to the criminal charges, civil assessments have been made which seek back taxes, penalties and interest, Morgan said.

Speaking to The Panolian on behalf of the Adiehs, was Emitayaz Adieh’s brother, Mike Salmon of Batesville.

Salmon, who owns and leases convenience stores, confirmed he had been convicted by a Panola County jury of tax fraud charges.

The conviction is now on appeal, he said.
In his case, Salmon said he went to the tax commission "first" for "help in filing my taxes.

He said he had difficulty finding an accountant to handle his taxes because he was told they were "too complicated."

Salmon said he did not pay what the tax commission said he owed because that amount was not correct.

He said he had ATM machines inside his store and the tax commission counted deposits back into the machines as "earned income."

For example, he said, if someone withdrew $200 the $200 he received from the ATM supplier to replace that money was counted as his income. What should have been counted instead, he said, was the $1.25 fee he received on each transaction.

"It’s almost like a racial issue," Salmon, who is of middle eastern descent said. "They are trying to push us out of Mississippi and I came to them for help."

Salmon said his brother-in-law, Aeyad Y. Adieh, "sent a check in before the indictment."

Salmon said his brother-in-law disputes the amount of taxes he is said to owe but decided to pay the state what it wanted "so he wouldn’t have any trouble."

"They (the state) didn’t even cash it," Salmon said of Adieh’s tax payment check.

Asked why he thinks he was convicted, Salmon said, " … It’s hard fighting the state. They asked me if I’d paid my taxes but I can’t pay them if I am disputing them … they overly inflated my income."

Also, Salmon said his case was hurt because his CPA from Jackson did not show up to testify on his behalf, even after court was delayed a week to allow the CPA to recover from an illness.

"My lawyer said it would have been worse on us if we had to subpoena her," Salmon said of the CPA.

The charges against the Adiehs came as the result of what Morgan called "a lengthy investigation."

Morgan, one of five tax commission criminal investigators, said the unit "tries to identify those people who live and get their living in Mississippi and have a total disregard for the rules and regulations of the tax commission."

He said the commission acts on the belief that all taxpayers should be "on a level playing field" and that all should pay "their fair share."
    


County Gets Extra Bill From Engineer
    
BY JIM BEAVER
PUBLISHER

John Hudson Clark presented Panola County a $7,900 bill on Monday for work he believes he has done in addition to his original contract as project engineer for the renovations of Dana Corporation in Crenshaw.

In Feb. 2001, Clark’s engineering firm, John Clark Hudson Jr. & Associates, was hired for the lump sum of $41,500 to oversee the work. Overall, approximately $562,000 was spent on the renovations with all monies coming from grants overseen by the North Delta Development Authority. Panola County also did much ‘in-kind’ work and Tunica County chipped in with approximately $200,000 worth of road work – all for the sake of keeping an industry in the area and saving 150 jobs.

Due to more time spent on the project than anticipated, Clark has billed the county for an additional 60 hours at $100 per hour for work done before Dec. 2002, and an additional $1,600 for work done since Dec. 2002. He has also included another six hours at $50 per hour for his technical assistant.

According to Clark, the project was done in four segments – roof, painting, parking lot and flooring – all of which are finished and paid for, except approximately $22,000 still due U.S. Coating of Jackson, Miss., in which the county is waiting for all release forms to be turned in before signing the final check. U.S. Coating was low bidder at $229,578 for their portion of the renovations.

Clark also noted that U.S. Coating still owes its sub-contractors approximately $40,000.

"Ever since they got that $60,000 back in December and didn’t share it with their vendors they’ve been ahead in the game," said Clark.

"It might not be a bad idea for the commissioners to notify the bonding company" because of the non-payments to vendors, he added.

Avant, who has been involved with the project since its inception said, "Let’s be patient. We’re making this more complicated than it is."
Avant doesn’t believe there is a problem.