Murder of elderly Gulfport man shocks neighbors, police

Jim Wilder (Photo Source: Gulfport Police Department)
Jim Wilder (Photo Source: Gulfport Police Department)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - WLOX-News has some new information on the capital murder of a Gulfport jewelry store owner. Investigators say the two men they were questioning turned out to be customers. So police still don't know who killed James Wilder.

World Gold and Silver Buyers jewelry store has been closed since July 5th. That was the day some customers walked into the Pass Road business and discovered a shocking scene.

"They heard some moaning. They looked over the counter and saw the victim lying on the ground. They immediately went over there. He was bleeding from the head," said George Chaix, Deputy Commander of the Gulfport Police Department.

The owner, 69-year old James Wilder, had been beaten and robbed.

"There are items we know are stolen. There was an area that was ransacked," said Chaix.

The crime happened in broad daylight, at 10:30 in the morning. Mr. Wilder worked alone and had been in business for only seven months. But he was a familiar face at many neighboring businesses.

"He'd come in four to five times a day, bought a lot of snacks," said Brenda Blanchard, who works at a nearby discount store. "He was very pleasant, always something nice to say, never any critical or ugly, not even about the weather or the heat. He was just a really nice man."

Mr. Wilder died at an Alabama hospital four days after the attack.

"We were very upset," said Blanchard. "He didn't deserve it. Whoever did it should really be ashamed."

Gulfport Police have no suspects at this time. However, they have sent evidence to the Mississippi Crime Lab. They say with today's technology, they are confident they will make an arrest.

"Mr. Wilder was 69-years-old, living the American dream of starting a business," said Chaix. "I find it shocking. I find it appalling that somebody would murder another just to take something from them. We don't tolerate that in the city of Gulfport."

Prior to opening the jewelry store, Mr. Wilder ran a trailer park off Canal Road. He leaves behind three sons, who live in Arkansas.

If you have any information about this case, contact the Gulfport Police Department at 228 868-5959 or (228) 868-5920. You can also contact Crimestoppers at 1-877-787-5898 or by clicking HERE. You can also text CSTIP plus your message to 274637(CRIMES).

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