SO locks in on murders
The trails may have gone cold, but the Tunica County Sheriff’s Department hopes to ignite a blaze of new information in several unsolved homicides.
Sheriff K.C. Hamp and Commander Eugene Payne says the department is currently working six cases in a quest to bring some closure to the victims’ families. In 2009, the department announced a break in the case of Fannie Burks, murdered over 15 years ago. Payne said the naming of a suspect was due to a tremendous amount of support from the community and hopes that the community can come through once again.
The department is actively investigating the deaths of Doris Butler, Herbert Harrison, Willie Davis, James Carter, Jo Ann Cornes and Ricky Hayes.
Butler, Harrison and Davis were all killed within the last five years.
The body of Jo Ann Cornes was discovered in the early morning hours on July 23, 2002 at the grain elevator on Old U.S. 61 in the North Sub. Cornes had been partially hung from the neck. An autopsy revealed that she had suffered a severe beating and was strangled to death by human hands.
A family friend reported that Cornes was last seen leaving her home at 9 p.m. the night before. She was the mother of four children.
Two months before Cornes’ death, farm workers in Phillips County, Ark. found the partially decomposed body of a Tunica County man. The body was identified as Ricky Hayes, 38. He sustained a single gunshot wound with a small caliber handgun. At the time, authorities speculated that he had been abducted or killed in Tunica County and dumped in Phillips County.
No arrests were ever made in the case.
Investigators also struggled to find answers in the death of James “Ju Man” Carter. On Sept. 14, 1998, deputies responded to a call on Gay Street in the North Sub. There they discovered Carter lying facedown in front of an abandoned home, nearly a block from his residence. Carter was an employee of Club Sigg and was last seen at work at approximately 6 p.m. the previous evening.
He sustained a single gunshot wound to the back of his head at close range.
Payne and Hamp stressed that those responsible for Carter’s death and all other unsolved homicides in Tunica County must and will be brought to justice.
They ask anyone with any information to call Crimestoppers at 662-910-0400. Callers will remain anonymous.
“We hope that by putting these cases back in the public’s minds, it will bring in some Crimestoppers leads,” Payne said.