Area homicides up in 2000; most other crimes decreased

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 8, 2001

[01/08/01] Vicksburg and Warren County had more killings in 2000 than in the previous year, but many of the other major crime categories saw a decrease.

Seven homicides were reported last year, four in the city and three in the county.

Police Chief Mitchell Dent said three of the city’s homicides were tied to domestic violence.

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“It is hard to put your finger on exactly why it is happening because there are so many human factors involved,” Dent said.

The first of the three domestic violence deaths came in March, when 38-year-old Robert Earl Smith, 605 Hutson St., shot and killed his girlfriend, Estella M. Patterson, 29, at her 278 Curry St. home in Kings, then turned the gun and killed himself, police say. Smith’s death does not count as a homicide because his wounds were self-inflicted.

About two months later, on May 30, James Taylor, 2500 Ben Bolia, shot and killed his girlfriend, 39-year-old Julian Jones, at her home at 1403 Beech St., Within hours, the 55-year-old Taylor drove to a Louisiana levee, where he killed his estranged wife, Daisy Taylor, 39, 1375 Nine Mile Cut-Off Road, then fatally shot himself. Because the Taylor couple died in Louisiana, their deaths aren’t included in Warren County statistics.

The most recent domestic violence-related death came in July, when Debora Johnson Green, 31, was stabbed to death at the 1910 Sky Farm Ave. home she shared with her husband, Anthony Green. He was charged in the death and remains in the Warren County Jail.

Indicted in October for murder, Anthony Green, 54, is scheduled to go to trial this year, but a date has not been set.

Dent said his department has a full-time domestic violence officer and works with other agencies to fight domestic violence and its effects.

“We are doing our best to provide an avenue for victims of domestic violence by intervening as much as the law allows us to,” Dent said.

The fourth city homicide in 2000 occurred on Aug. 26, when 37-year-old Bobby Pinkney, 913 China St., died after being beaten with a metal pipe at The Smoke Break at Cherry and Clay streets.

Doc Davis Jr., 19, 1512 South St., was charged in Pinkney’s death. He remains in the Warren County Jail awaiting a trial this year on manslaughter charges.

In other areas of crime, statistics released by the Vicksburg Police Department show that aggravated assaults decreased from 242 in 1999 to 188 last year, while simple assaults rose slightly from 1,155 in 1999 to 1,174 in 2000.

Sheriff’s Department statistics show decreases in almost all areas except homicides, which rose by two. Burglaries dropped from 144 in 1999 to 107 in 2000, and auto thefts dropped from from 47 in 1999 to five last year.

Warren County’s first homicide was recorded March 13, when the body of 23-year-old Robert Paul Moore, 23, was found on Gowall Road.

Moore, who had been missing from his Raymond home since Feb. 17, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head.

Arrested and charged with his death were brothers Greg Sanders, 17, 470 Bud Martin Road, and 22-year-old James Sanders of Florence, later identified as childhood friends of the victim.

Greg Sanders was released from jail April 21 after pleading guilty to accessory to armed robbery and agreeing to testify about Moore’s killing.

He was given a three-year suspended sentence and five years’ probation and ordered to pay $1,273 in fines and court costs. James Sanders, who was indicted in May on a charge of murder, remains in the Warren County Jail, and his case is expected to go to trial this year.

The county’s last two homicides came in the early-morning hours of July 2 after a truck drove into the back of a car pulled off Interstate 20, killing two sleeping children who were returning home to Texas with their family after a vacation.

David Drew Porter, 4701 Bovina Cut-Off Road, was indicted in October on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of 11-year-old Thalia Tarango and her brother, Anthony Tarango, 6.

Porter, 34, was identified as the driver of the Dodge pickup that hit the family’s van.

Porter has been free on bond since July 6. His case was set to go to trial Dec. 4 but was delayed, and a new date has not been set.

In other county crimes:

Aggravated assaults dropped from 20 in 1999 to 15 last year.

Thefts (including shoplifting and auto burglaries) rose from 247 in 1999 to 250 in 2000.

Robberies doubled from one in 1999 to two last year.

Rapes dropped from seven in 1999 to four in 2000.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said there could be several reasons for the drop in crime.

“I think a lot of it could be a sense of community policing, where people will pick up the phone and call 911 when they see suspicious activity,” Pace said.

The department’s 18 road deputies have a good presence in the community as well, he said.

“The economy is relatively stable right now and unemployment is relatively stable,” Pace said. “Sometimes there is no one-line explanation for why crime goes up or down.”

The Sheriff’s Department spent about $1.6 million in 2000, the same as in 1999.

Dent said his department employs 107 officers, compared with 95 in 1999. The police department spent $6.4 million in 2000, the same as in 1999.

Other numbers released by the police department show decreases in several areas in the city:

Aggravated assaults were down from 242 in 1999 to 188 last year.

Business burglaries were down from 93 to 85.

Auto theft dropped from 230 to 166.

Residential burglary dropped from 171 to 166 in 2000.

Auto thefts were down from 230 to 166 last year.

Increases were recorded in three areas:

Rapes were up from 26 in 1999 to 31 in 2000.

Simple assaults rose from 1,155 in 1999 to 1,174 in 2000.

Robberies rose from 34 in 1999 to 50 last year.

“They just seemed to trend up this year, and a lot of those are multiple robberies committed by the same person,” Dent said. “We have been fortunate because we have been able to make a lot of arrests on those cases.”