Investigators Say Time Can Be A Tool In Solving Murder Cases - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/25/05

Investigators Say Time Can Be A Tool In Solving Murder Cases

"I wanted to find out who killed this man, making him get down on his knees and shoot him once in the head like execution style," Jackson County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ken McClenic says.

From the beginning, investigators McClenic and Kim Versiga said they thought they knew who did it.

"We had some information several years ago. We looked at and were not able to use it at the time," Jackson County Sheriff's Department Lt. Kim Versiga says.

So it took seven years for these Jackson County Investigators to get enough information to make arrests.

All that time the suspects, 50-year-old Wesley Charles McLeod and 51-year-old Walter Ray Payne Junior, walked the streets.

But McClenic says sometimes passing time makes for a better case.

"A lot of times, it seems like, after years go by that witnesses are more apt to talk more freely than they were at the time," McClenic says.

But Sheriff Mike Byrd says the problem with cold cases is just that, they're cold.

That means any new cases take precedence.

"Say for instance, if we had a homicide happen today, and this man's assigned it, he's going to have to go work it. Then he'll have to come back and do his followed up on this cold case," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd says.

Putting old cases on the back burner can cause more pain and grief for the victim's families. But taking that time to make a strong case just may help the family get the closure they need.

"I thank the judge that they are not on the street where they can do this to someone else. I'm happy for that," Robert Pop's son Thomas says.

"Every minute of it, we'll be here. When you see one of us, you'll see all of us," Robert Pope's daughter-in-law Kelli says.

By Jaimee Goad

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