Harrison County Sheriffs Office reopens 2002 Cold Case

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Phillip Lyons was retired. He had worked at Mississippi Power's Plant Watson for more than 25 years and his co-worker remembers him as an outstanding employee. Lyons drove a 1998 Cadillac El Dorado and you couldn't miss the car, it was a bright red.

On a hot summer day in August of 2002, that shinny red Cadillac was parked on Highway 90 in Gulfport. Someone walking past the car smelled a foul odor.

"On August 14th, a passer-by found his vehicle and his body was later discovered in the trunk of that vehicle. It was parked at 38th and Highway 90," Captain Kevin Hicks remembered.

Captain Hicks, with the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, is looking for new information to solve this cold case.

"Apparently his body had been there for awhile. It appeared that he had a single gunshot wound to the head and he was clothed, and there was nothing really more than we found other then that," Hicks stated.

Hicks said the last time anyone reported seeing Lyons was on August 6th at the Waffle House on Camp Avenue and Highway 90. Lyons was reported missing by his brother on August 12th.

Between August 6th and the 12th, Captain Hicks said his brother discovered suspicious transactions.

"And so when Lyons brother seen the ATM transactions of $200 at a time, and several of them in one day, he thought that was suspicious," Hicks said.

Bank records show the transactions were made at the Flying J in Gulfport and convenience stores in Diamondhead and in Slidell.

From the 2002 investigation, it was learned that Lyons had a habit of helping homeless people. He would offer them work for money and clothes. The Cadillac El Dorado was discovered at a comfort station in Gulfport where police say the homeless would meet.

"So transients would congregate in that area and we think that's the reason his vehicle was found there with his body in it," Hicks stated.

Phillip Lyons was an active member of Robinwood Baptist Church in Saucier, Mississippi. Bobby Wadsworth served as the pastor at that time and remembers Lyons as a fine person.

"Lyons voluntarily played the organ for our church after he had donated the organ to the church," Wadsworth said. "Lyons was very faithful, you can depend on him to be there. In fact, that's the way that we missed him is because he didn't show up one Sunday morning for services and we knew that something was wrong at that time."

Wadsworth said Lyons would visit with him in his office at the church.

"He shared with me two or three times that he had hired a person, different times, to come. A homeless person that was willing to work for food."

Captain Hicks is looking for anyone who might know something about what happened to come forward and give any information that might help solve this case.

"We all want justice to be done, that's just a natural thing in life," Wadsworth said.

If anyone has any information that could help solve the shooting death of Phillip Lyons, you can contact the Harrison County Sheriff's Office at (228) 865-7060.

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