Headlines – 12/5/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

Panolian Headlines: December 5, 2003

For complete stories,
pick up the 12/5/03  issue of The Panolian

Hentz Escape Probe Reveals
     Security Breaches at Parchman
"America’s Most Wanted" will air segment Saturday
By Kate B. Dickson

If anything baffles Sheriff David Bryan right now it’s why escapee Larry Hentz wasn’t put in maximum security after the prisoner’s wife was caught trying to smuggle a hacksaw blade into him last summer.

And with good reason.

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For it is Hentz’s wife, Elizabeth Lacy Hentz of Courtland, who Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say smuggled a six-inch reciprocating saw blade into Parchman which provided the means for her husband to escape.

On another visit, one day before the escape, MDOC officials say Elizabeth Lacy Hentz smuggled in a pair of wire cutters and $500 in cash.

Meanwhile, the couple, believed to be on the run together since the escape, will be featured Saturday night on "America’s Most Wanted" television show that will air at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Bryan was interviewed for the show as was Bobby Williams, who was district attorney in the early 80s when Hentz was arrested.

Hentz, of Panola County, escaped on Nov. 17, about one month after his wife brought in the saw blade during a visit, MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps said Thursday.

At the time, Elizabeth Lacy Hentz was free on bond after Bryan said she was caught trying to smuggle "paraphernalia and a hacksaw blade" into her husband who was at a prison psychiatric facility in Meridian (East Mississippi Correctional Facility) for treatment of mental illness.

And that wasn’t the first time she’s tried to help the convicted murderer escape, the sheriff said.
She was arrested once for trying to smuggle in a gun to Hentz when he was being held in DeSoto County, according to the sheriff.

223rd Engineers Suffers Unit’s
     First Iraqi War Death
By Kate B. Dickson

The family of Mississippi Army National Guard Specialist Raphael S. Davis, 24, of Webb, has been preparing to welcome him home for his two-week leave of absence from the war in Iraq.

Instead, they are making funeral arrangements as the member of Charleston’s Company C 223rd Engineering unit was killed Monday while enroute to the airport for his departure home, said SFC Dan Stewart of the unit.

Davis was a member of the Webb unit of engineers which is under the parent company based in Charleston, Stewart said.

"But when they get over there all the soldiers work in one unit," Stewart said. "A lot of them are from Panola County."

Davis was killed by shrapnel when the humvee he was driving was hit when an improvised explosive device (IMP) detonated on the roadside, Stewart said.

Such devices, he said, can operate like land mines and can also be set off by remote control.

Two other members of the unit, one from Charleston and another from Calhoun City, were slightly injured in the blast but were able to return to duty, Stewart said.

Davis’ father, Clifton Bailey, is a constable in Webb, Stewart said.


Shopping season …
Retail stores have been frequented by holiday shoppers since the end of November. Ian Patrick Williams of KB Toys Express handled a price-check for one of his customers.
Merchants Optimistic About
     Holiday Shopping
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Local merchants remain optimistic about the holiday shopping season with most having increased sales over this time last year.

According to reports from the City of Batesville, $238,623.58 in sales tax was collected for Nov. 2002, and $301,115.64 was collected for the month of Dec. 2002.

A representative in the City Clerk’s office said they are hopeful this year’s numbers will be more with the additions of new retail businesses.

Mike Woods, owner of Unclaimed Furniture, said his sales, while climbing, are still not as good as they were last year. He said some of that loss could be attributed to his move to a new building off Highway 6 in July.

"I think there are some people who might not know we have moved," he said. "That is having an effect on sales for sure."

Despite the move, Woods said business now is on the upswing.

"The past two weeks have been really good and things are picking up," he said. "That makes me really hopeful for what might end up being a good year."

Store Opens Saturday
     in Old Wal-Mart Site
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

After remaining empty for more than one year, part of the old Wal-Mart building is getting a new tenant.

According to Pam Comer, administrator of code enforcement for the City of Batesville, Burkes Outlet Store will occupy 20,814 square feet or approximately one-third of the old Wal-Mart building.

"We received plans on Oct. 13, and they started renovations just over two weeks later," she said.

Comer said, to her knowledge, no other businesses have expressed interest in locating to other portions of the vacant facility.

Burkes Outlet Store, part of a chain of 400 stores throughout California and the Southeast U.S. is scheduled to open its Batesville store (the 15th in the state) on Saturday.