Family fights death ruling a year later|[11/21/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 21, 2005

EDWARDS – The family of a Clinton man whose body was discovered near Cemetery Road here more than a year ago said after a weekend memorial service they still believe he was murdered and question why authorities have officially ruled his death a suicide.

&#8220Obviously, someone else is involved,” Renee Bryant said. &#8220This is just a way for them to close the case so they don’t have to fool with it.”

The body of Kevin Cox, 36 and a former Vicksburg resident, was found Nov. 20, 2004, on land he leased near Cemetery and Buck Reed roads. Authorities initially said the death was a suicide but made no official ruling.

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However, Capt. Steve Pickett of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department said Saturday the official ruling is that Cox’s death was suicide.

&#8220The case was concluded to have been suicide,” Pickett said. &#8220He suffered a gunshot wound to the head.”

Authorities believe Cox, who lived at 104 Stonebridge Lane in Clinton with his wife and two young children, shot himself with a single bullet. But Bryant and other family members said it would have been impossible for Cox to have shot himself with his .357-caliber gun because the gun was found in his pants pocket.

Pickett acknowledged a .357-caliber gun was found in the right-front pocket of Cox’s pants, but said that gun may have not been used in the shooting.

&#8220The fact of the matter is the man had a gun there,” Pickett said. &#8220The gun had been fired. His hand had fired a weapon that day. It was a single shot to the head, but the projectile was not found, so we cannot say if it was from that weapon or not.”

Bryant, after learning of Pickett’s statements, refused to believe her brother took his own life.

&#8220They need to figure out how that gun got in his pocket,” she said. &#8220It would have been impossible for him to shoot himself and then put the gun in his pocket.” The sheriff’s department &#8220has not communicated with the family like they should have.”

The gun found in Cox’s pants is not the only reason the family believes he was murdered. They said his cell phone, watch and GPS systems have not been found. Furthermore, Hinds County authorities have remained silent on the results of the investigation, said Jack Cox, Kevin Cox’s brother.

&#8220I’d just like to know some of the results,” said Jack Cox, 36, of New York. &#8220They have given us no records or fingerprints and have not told us whether Kevin was standing up or sitting down when he died. Also, his cell phone is gone. They won’t tell us anything. There are just a lot of things that don’t make sense.”

Cox, an avid hunter, was apparently hanging signs showing the land’s boundaries before hunting season opened Nov. 20, 2004. A staple gun and several signs were later found on the land, which Cox had leased for four or five years.

About 25 family members and friends gathered Saturday near the site where the body was found last year. They talked for an hour about his life and his love for the outdoors.

&#8220I looked up at heaven this morning and asked Kevin if he’d bring us a big buck today,” friend Robert Dedmon said. &#8220Kevin is here with us.”

Posters offering a $20,000 reward, doubled from previous offers, for clues in Kevin Cox’s death were hung on trees near where his body was found, and a cross was erected near Cemetery Road. Crime-scene tape remained at the site.

Kevin Cox was buried at Edwards City Cemetery, not far from where his body was found. His mother said after the memorial service the family decided to bury him there because the land he leased is near the cemetery.

&#8220His land adjoins the cemetery,” Georgia Cox said, tears running down her face. &#8220So he can look out and see the deer.”

Kevin Cox, who still has family ties in Vicksburg, had lived for the past 10 years in Clinton, where he was a warehouse supervisor at Jitney Jungle Food Stores in Jackson. Kevin Cox also owned and operated Architect’s Choice General Contracting.

He left behind two children, then ages 7 and 3, and a wife, Susie Cox.

The family asks that anyone with information call 885-9440.