Headlines – 3/31/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – March 31, 2006

  From the 3/31/06 issue of The Panolian       

Father: clues pointed to Moseley
     as couple’s killer
By Billy Davis

Husband and wife Jamie and Stephanie Smith had plans: buy an acre of land near Strayhorn and pick out a mobile home, then save up to build a house. Those plans meant saving money so they could leave the duplex they were renting at 767 South Parkway, located in south Memphis.

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They never made it out alive.

Memphis police found the bodies of the couple on March 23 wrapped in plastic in Larry Moseley’s attic, ending a mystery that began a week earlier when Jamie’s father, Ricky Smith, tried to reach them via their cell phones.

An autopsy showed the Smiths had been bludgeoned to death, and Memphis police believe Moseley killed them over a demand for money.

Funeral services for James "Jamie Smith," 23, were held Wednesday in Batesville at Wells Funeral Home. In Strayhorn, the service for Stephanie Ann Grace Smith, 21, was set for Thursday at Pate-Jones Funeral Home.

Jamie and Stephanie Smith had been high school sweethearts. They were married on November 7, 2003.

"They were happy, man. You could call them the perfect couple," said Joe Smith, 27, Jamie’s brother.

Stephanie Smith worked at Horseshoe Casino in Tunica where she was a shift manager. Jamie Smith had recently been hired as a security officer at another Tunica casino, Gold Strike.

According to Ricky Smith, Jamie Smith was last seen early in the morning Wednesday, March 15, when he stopped to show friends in Southaven a pickup he had recently purchased.

Stephanie Smith was last seen at 8:15 a.m. March 16 when she withdrew $5,000 from a bank. The large sum of money likely went to Moseley, the duplex tenant at 765 South Parkway who was Jamie Smith’s uncle and the brother of his late mother.

Whether the $5,000 bank withdrawal was meant for Larry Moseley, perhaps as a ransom, may never be known this side of eternity. On March 24,
29-year-old Moseley and his father, Frank Moseley, 69, were killed near Coldwater when a trap set by law enforcement officers sprang around them. Blocked in at a roadblock, Frank Moseley pulled a gun and killed his son, then killed himself.

Despite gunfire from at least one law enforcement officer, autopsy results showed the father shot his son then himself, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations reported this week.

The Moseleys’ violent deaths fit the crime the son committed, said Ricky Smith, who spoke to The Panolian the day before his son’s funeral.

"It was quick justice as far as I’m concerned," said Smith, who believes Moseley killed his son and daughter-in-law over money he needed for drugs.

While Jamie and Stephanie Smith were likely dead in Moseley’s home, Ricky Smith spoke at least twice to the likely murderer as he searched for his missing son and daughter-and-law.

Ricky Smith said he never suspected foul play despite several clues that seem obvious in hindsight. An injury to Moseley’s hand could have come from a struggle with Jamie Smith, and the 29-year-old balked when the father suggested calling Memphis police to gain entry into his son’s apartment.

After a conversation March 21 between Ricky Smith and two Memphis police officers, he learned that Moseley was a suspect in their disappearance. The 29-year-old wasn’t answering his cell phone and hadn’t shown up for a scheduled interview with Memphis police detectives.

The police officers also told Smith why Moseley had made a sudden trip days earlier to Murfreesboro, Tenn., where his father lived. That story differed from the story Smith was told.

"I hate to be sitting here with vengeance in my heart, but I just wish I’d figured it out sooner," the father said. "I couldn’t have saved my kids, but I could have killed him."

Tragic Timeline
March 14-24

Tues./Wed., Mar. 14-15:
  Jamie Smith leaves his family in Pope and stops in Southaven to see friends to show off a new pickup. Jamie Smith is not seen again.
Wed., March 15:
  At 8:15 a.m., Stephanie Smith withdraws $5,000 from a bank. She is not seen again.
Thurs., March 16:
  Ricky Smith is buying a car tag for the truck his son recently purchased. He attempts to reach Jamie Smith via his cellphone to verify a VIN for the truck. He also tries to reach Stephanie Smith.
Fri., March 17:
  Joe Smith and his wife, Jennifer, stop by the couple’s Memphis apartment. No one comes to the door, and the couple’s dog doesn’t bark at the knocking.
     Jamie’s new pickup and Stephanie’s car, a Nissan Altima, are parked at the apartment.
     Ricky Smith talks to Horseshoe personnel later that night and learns Stephanie didn’t show up for work. He talks to Stephanie’s mother, Samantha Gammon, who also hasn’t heard from the couple.
Sat., March 18:
  Ricky Smith calls around and gets the cell number for Larry Mosely. Mosely says he last saw the couple Thursday afternoon.
     Joe Smith again stops by the home of his brother. He gives Mosely a ride to a neighborhood Walgreens.
Sunday, March 19:
   Early in the morning, Ricky Smith and Joe and Jennifer Smith go to the apartment. They gain entry when Mosely and Joe Smith break a window pane and unlock the window. Inside the apartment, nothing seems out of place but the dog is gone.
     In the driveway, Stephanie’s car is also gone.
Tuesday, March 21:
  In the morning, Mosely calls Ricky Smith to tell him of news reports that Jamie and Stephanie had possibly been sighted. Later in the evening, Ricky Smith talks to Memphis police officers at the duplex and learns Mosely didn’t show up for an interview with detectives and isn’t answering his cell phone.
Thursday, March 23:
  Memphis police find the bodies of Jamie and Stephanie Smith in the attic of Mosely’s duplex apartment.
Friday, March 24:
   At about 4:30 a.m. Larry Mosely is shot and killed by his father, Frank Mosely, when law enforcement officers surround their car near a residence in Coldwater. The father then kills himself.
(The preceding timeline is a recollection of these events as told to The Panolian by Ricky Smith).
Mettetal was ‘honored’ to cast tax vote
By Billy Davis

Sen. Nolan Mettetal cast another failed vote this week in favor of raising the tax on cigarettes and cutting the tax on groceries, saying he was "proud and honored" to do so.

The vote on Senate bill 3084, which came on Wednesday, failed by four votes to override a veto from Gov. Haley Barbour, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported Thursday.

The final vote was 29-20.

The failed override comes at the close of the state legislature’s 90-day session, which officially ends Sunday.

Reached Thursday on the Senate floor, Mettetal said the cigarette/grocery measure trumped all other legislation during the session, even a controversial abortion bill.

"This one issue dominated overwhelmingly," Mettetal said. "Add up everything else combined, and I got more phone calls and e-mails about this than anything else."

Most citizens who contacted Mettetal told him they supported the measure, the senator said.

The Senate bill would have raised cigarette taxes from 18 cents per pack to $1 a pack over two years and cut the state’s seven percent sales tax in half on grocery products.

The cigarette/grocery bill pitted Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who presides over the Senate, against Barbour, who had said he would veto any tax raises.

Barbour thanked the Senate for sustaining his veto, saying the bill would "risk a reduction in state revenue."

Mettetal said the Senate’s vote Wednesday ended with more state senators having moved into Barbour’s "camp" than following the first Senate vote.

Asked about any political arm twisting prior to the vote, Mettetal wouldn’t comment on that topic.

The Clarion-Ledger castigated 20 state senators who sided with Barbour in a Thursday editorial, listing their names and photos.

The editorial told readers to "remember these senators when you go to the grocery store."

‘Spring forward’ comes Sun.
By Billy Davis

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday at 2 a.m., continuing the century-old ritual that has withstood its share of controversy and confusion.

Benjamin Franklin is widely credited with first suggesting the practice in 1784. An Englishman, William Willet, suggested it again in 1907 in his pamphlet, "The Waste of Daylight."

To take advantage of daylight, Willet suggested moving the clock ahead 80 minutes with four moves of 20 minutes each during the spring and summer. The British House of Commons rejected the idea but apparently didn’t entirely forget about it, and in 1916 Parliament introduced British Summer Time.

In the United States, Congress introduced Daylight Saving Time (DST) in 1918 to conserve resources for the World War I war effort. The measure was unpopular and was later repealed only to be resurrected during World War II for the same reason.

Daylight Saving Time in the United States has been an on-again, off-again practice through the rest of the 20th century, repeatedly tweaked by Congress and presidents in the name of energy conservation.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, now a federal law, will change Daylight Saving Time in March, 2007. DST will "leap forward" the second Sunday in March and "fall back" on the first Sunday in November.

And, yes, it’s Daylight "Saving" Time, not "Savings."

New home for USDA
     The mayors of Sardis and Batesville were among many well-wishers who visited an open house Thursday, March 23 marking the completion of a new 10,000-square-foot facility which consolidates local and some district functions of United States Dept. of Agriculture agencies under one roof at 175 Broome Ridge Road, near the Amerihost Inn.
     Mayors Rusty Dye and Jerry Autrey (from left) joined Johnny Shell and Nick Walters, district and state directors, respectively, of the USDA Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist Terry Myers, Farm Service Administration County Executive Director Kim Billingsley and Bruce Bolen of Rural Development Services.
New equipment at Crown brings ‘up, down’ layoffs
By John Howell Sr.

A new manufacturing line to expand production versatility at Batesville’s Crown Cork & Seal manufacturing facility will bring a $7.2 million investment in equipment and infrastructure by its completion expected in September.

The construction will also result in temporary layoffs.

The new line will allow the factory to produce 16 ounce aluminum beverage cans and brings its total investment in the Batesville plant during the last 18 months to $14 million.

"Layoffs will be variable, up and down in quantity of people, bringing them back in September," Dunleavy said. The corporate official said that the company hopes to bring all laid-off workers back but could not make guarantees.

A manufacturing line capable of producing eight ounce cans was completed during the fall of 2004. Two existing lines produce standard 12-ounce cans.
"We’ve seen increased demand in what used to be ?non-standard’ sizes," Dunleavy said. "Batesville’s been a great plant; we’ve invested more and more into this facility," he added.

The Crown Cork & Seal official also praised Mississippi as "business friendly."

Crown Cork & Seal is Panola’s fourth-largest employer with approximately 225 employees. The number varies with seasonal demand that falls during winter and rises in warm summer months, Dunleavy said.

Sources at the Batesville plant said the layoffs are expected to affect less than 40 workers.

Though the additional line is not expected to increase the number of workers employees at the plant, the additional investment is expected to keep the facility competitive and assure its future, Dunleavy said.

Crown Cork & Seal manufactures one out of every five beverage cans used in the world and one out of every three food cans used in North America and Europe.

Guns, knives to be seized as case proceeds to grand jury
By Emily Williams

A former Lambert police officer was bound over to a Panola County grand jury on a charge of sexual battery on a child following a preliminary hearing in Batesville Municipal Court Wednesday.

Judge Bill McKenzie heard testimonies from the 13-year-old victim’s mother and Detective George Williford.

Williford testified that Danny Williams, 31, of 320 Panola Ave., Batesville, was recorded on a phone conversation with the juvenile saying, "Let’s keep this quiet."

The detective also testified that Williams was recorded admitting that if the child was pregnant, it would be his child.

The mother testified that her daughter is not pregnant, but she has been treated at an abuse crisis center and there are findings that she was sexually battered.

The mother also stated that she and her daughter were very afraid of Williams, adding that he had numerous firearms and knives he was trained to use.

McKenzie granted a bond reduction from $150,000 to $75,000 and stipulated that all firearms be turned in to the police department. He also ordered Williams to stay out of Panola County and have no contact with the mother or the juvenile.

Commission gives ‘OK’ to next Keating Grove phase
By Jason C. Mattox

The Batesville Planning Commission gave subdivision developer Reeves-Williams the go ahead with the "Section D" phase of its Keating Grove subdivision and also approved a preliminary plat for Section E.

Ben Smith, engineer for Reeves-Williams, told commission members Monday night that concerns over some of the proposed homes being in a flood plain had been resolved.

"If someone buys one of the lots in the floodplain, they will receive two lots, one of which is not in the plain," he said. "They will only be allowed to build on the lot affected by the floodplain."

Keating Grove is located near the new national guard armory in the area of Keating Road and Oak Ridge Lane.

Smith also said that sections D and E were the final phases of the Keating Grove development.

"All of the homes will be similar to what is already in the subdivision," he said. "We are using the same builders.

"We just want to get final approval so we can move forward with completion," Smith added.

One other matter before the board was a request from Edith Cole to rezone a piece of property on Patton Lane to M-1 to allow a mobile home.

"My son is in Tulsa, Oklahoma," she said. "He wants to move his family back here."

Cole explained that her son had a mobile home on the property in the past, but it was destroyed by fire.

The request for rezoning was denied.

"There are only two reasons that will allow us to rezone a piece of property," Code Enforcement Officer Pam Comer told Cole. "There has to either be a change to the law or a change to the neighborhood, and there is only one mobile home in that area."

Cole can appeal the planning commission’s decision to the Batesville Board of Aldermen if she chooses.

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