Murder suspect may be dead, but investigation continues

Rodney Joseph Lasseigne
Rodney Joseph Lasseigne

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An autopsy set for Monday should determine whether a man shot dead in Florida is the same person who murdered his mother in Jackson County months ago.

Authorities in Mississippi say if the dead man is Rodney Joseph Lasseigne, that doesn't necessarily mean the murder investigation is over.

On Saturday, sheriff's deputies in shot a man who was in Lasseigne's car after the man pulled a gun on them. They are still waiting for fingerprint results, but deputies in Saint John's County, Florida say there are early indications it is Lasseigne.

Lasseigne is wanted for the beating death of his mother, 68-year-old Juanita Gibson, at her home in Gautier last year.

Lt. Detective Jerry Cooksey with the Gautier Police Department said, "Hopefully locating Rodney will help Juanita Gibson's family find some closure to this terrible incident. I regret that we will not be able to answer the family's question of why Rodney did this to his mother."

U.S. Marshals say even if Lasseigne is dead, they are still hoping to resolve a lot of unanswered questions. That's why they're eager to know if anything found in Lasseigne's car could be a vital clue in the investigation.

"I don't think it's closed because there could be evidence in the car, like a journal or a suicide note," said Justin Vickers with the U.S. Marshals office. " Hopefully we can talk to deputies about what was in the car."

Shortly after the Juanita Gibson's murder in July, her neighbors told WLOX she was kind woman.

Gibson's friend Iva Bevill said, "It just tore our hearts out of our chests."

"It hurts me pretty bad because Juanita has always been real good to me," said another neighbor, Julie Morgan. "If I needed anything, I could walk down here and ask her."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the deadly shooting. Deputies involved have been placed on leave, which authorities say is the standard procedure

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