Gautier Teen's Murder Case Headed To Grand Jury - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/17/05

Gautier Teen's Murder Case Headed To Grand Jury

In the days that followed Michael Meldren's murder, his family spoke freely about the young man they so dearly miss.

Thursday, the Meldren family couldn't speak after listening to a sheriff's investigator talk about how the 18-year-old Gautier High student was murdered last month after a night of drug use with Josh Riser, the man accused of killing him.

The details of what investigators say happened that night came out in Riser's preliminary hearing Thursday in Pascagoula.

Seargent Ken McClenic was the only witness to take the stand. He detailed how Michael Meldren died and why Josh Riser was arrested.

"A body had been found in a wooded area just off Highway 57 in the Vancleave community," McClenic testified. "Two young boys riding all terrain vehicles had located a body."

The spot where Meldren's body was found turned out to be a place he knew well. Investigators say Melden, Riser and others spent a good bit of time in these woods.

"To have bonfires, drink alcohol, use illegal narcotics and even make illegal drug transactions."

From the start of the investigation, McClenic says illegal drugs, specifically cocaine, kept coming up.

"Josh Riser and the victim spent the previous night together, the whole night together, using and purchasing powder cocaine."

It didn't take detectives long to begin focusing on Riser as their suspect. The day the body was found, McClenic says Riser showed up at the crime scene with a friend.

Mud found on Riser's car also linked him to the crime scene. And detectives questioned Riser about the guns he owned, specifically a 22 caliber, the type gun used in the murder.

"He denied owning a 22 caliber pistol, but a 22 caliber pistol was recovered from his home. There was two spent 22 caliber casings found in his bedroom."

McClenic says Riser was questioned over several days. Each time, they say, he gave a different account of how Meldren died. The last time, McClenic says, Riser confessed.

"He stated, in fact, that he did it and acted alone. He decided to shoot Michael Meldren so he could take his powdered cocaine. He described where he shot him at, how many times he shot him and stated he drug him off into the woods."

Hearing the details of his death left Michael Meldren's family in shock and overcome with emotion, as the young man they thought was their son's friend was taken back to jail.

Judge Larry Wilson decided the case against Josh Riser should be presented to a grand jury. Riser is being held without bond.

by Josh Ridgdell

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