"These are not cold cases." Investigating five unsolved murders in Yazoo City

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

Five families have been waiting and wondering for as long as five years on an answer. They want to know who killed their loved ones.

Five murders within Yazoo City remain unsolved, with one dating back to 2014. At times, the cases have been thrusted into the community, whether it be from public memorials to newspaper headlines. Other times, the cases seem to have been forgotten, casually mentioned in “what-ever-happened to” conversations.

But Police Chief Ron Sampson said those cases are anything but “cold.” He is bringing those five cases back to public’s attention in an effort to gather additional information to continue the journey to closure for families.

“These families deserve closure, and we haven’t forgotten about them,” Sampson said. “Some of these cases happened before my administration, but I still consider them active, open investigations. I don’t want the families or the public to think we have fallen asleep at the wheel. Just because some of these cases didn’t happen on my watch, we have not forgotten them.”

Sampson said he met with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation a couple of weeks ago to address these five unsolved murders. Based on the MBI’s material and local files, he said the cases have some strong leads. But he wants anyone with even the tiniest bit of information to come forward to ensure all the evidence will lead to a successful case in court.

“At this point, we can’t deal with hearsay,” he said. “We need people to come forward to verify and calibrate with the evidence that we do have. We need the public’s help to solidify what information we have to make arrests. We don’t want to head into court with not enough solid information.”

The clearance rates behind homicides have been heavily studied on a national level for the last several years. Although techniques and tools have improved over the years, there is still a great need for witness and public cooperation. Sometimes “statements” lead to success.

Other police agencies are also digging into their files, looking at older cases that can be revisited with new techniques.

Yazoo City is one of those agencies. Sampson and his investigators are literally also digging through old files, hoping to find some low-hanging fruit that can be combined with solid leads and strong evidence.

The majority of the cases happened before Sampson began his tenure at the Yazoo City Police Department. But he said there is no timeframe when it comes to murder.

“We are going through each and every file,” Sampson said. “Any information, no matter how small, could be something.”

Sampson said, of course, he wants justice served. But he also wants closure for the families who have been waiting. He understands what it feels like to wait. He continues to wait for justice in the murder of his own nephew from several years ago.

“These families deserve that,” he said.

Here’s a look at those five unsolved murders:

Perry Hollins, 28, was murdered on Aug. 25, 2014 on Rainbow Street. His body was discovered in an overturned car with gunshot wounds to the head. Investigators said they believe Hollins was lured to the location because he was set to testify against Jelani Miles in a Yazoo County Circuit Court murder trial the very next day. Eventually, Miles was found guilty of murder, aggravated assault and shooting into an occupied dwelling and sentenced to life in prison.

Deangelo Brown was murdered on Feb. 5, 2014, and his body was discovered in the parking lot of Plaza Twin Cinema with gunshot wounds to his head. His case has sparked a number of community rallies throughout the years.

Alfred Coleman, 40, was murdered on May 30, 2016 at the Magnolia Apartment Crossing Apartments on West Broadway. His body was discovered with a stab wound to his leg. Friends remembered him for being involved in his church and a talented singer.

Billy Ray Peeples, also known as the Peanut Man, was discovered inside a Jerry Clower Boulevard building with several wounds to his head. Taken to a Jackson hospital, Peeples would later die from his wounds after remaining unresponsive for over a week. Yazoo County Coroner Ricky Shivers said Peeples suffered a blow to his head, which resulted in his death. Two suspects were initially charged with his murder. But those charges were dismissed with witnesses refusing to cooperate.

King Ball was murdered on Oct. 3, 2018 inside his home at 323 East Seventh Street. His body was discovered with multiple gunshot wounds.

Crimestoppers continues to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest of the suspects involved in the Peeples and Ball murder cases.

“Outside of the money, there is more interest in giving these families closure,” Sampson added. “The families need to know they have not been forgotten, and justice has been served.”

Crimestoppers can be reached at 746-TIPS. The Yazoo City Police Department can be reached at 746-1131.