Man reportedly admits to killing roommate; victim identified - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Man reportedly admits to killing roommate; victim identified

Gabriel Benjamin Curtis is charged with murder. (Photo Source: Harrison County Jail Docket) Gabriel Benjamin Curtis is charged with murder. (Photo Source: Harrison County Jail Docket)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Shortly before 9 p.m. the Harrison County Coroner confirmed that  75-year-old Willis Cassidy, Jr. died from a gunshot wound to the head.  

Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson says it’s very possible that Cassidy died a minimum of 12-14 hours before authorities recovered his body. An autopsy will help determine the time of death.

Harrison County deputies say they first learned about the death because of a phone call dispatchers received Thursday night from someone in Florida.

That individual said 39-year-old Gabriel Curtis admitted during a Facebook chat that he killed his roommate inside their Saucier home. Soon after the Facebook chat ended, the Florida man reportedly contacted Harrison County. By 10:00 p.m. Thursday night, investigators arrived at the 17000 block of Pine Bark Lane, and found what they called a violent crime scene.

About four-and-a-half hours after beginning their investigation, the sheriff said Curtis came home in the victim’s car, and was immediately taken into custody. Based on interviews and evidence collected inside the home, they determined some sort of altercation led to at least one gunshot being fired between Wednesday night and Thursday night.

Curtis reportedly put the body in the victim’s car, drove to Jackson County, and dumped the body in an overgrown field near Highway 90 and Franklin Creek Road. After being arrested this morning, the sheriff said Curtis told investigators he could take them to that spot. Investigators drove from the Harrison County jail to a dead-end road at Franklin Creek and Highway 90 in eastern Jackson County. They got there at 4:45 a.m. and immediately saw the victim’s body.

According to the sheriff, the suspect told investigators there was some sort of altercation between Curtis and the victim that led to the victim’s death. Curtis reportedly claimed the death was justifiable because he acted in self-defense. Because Curtis moved the body from the Saucier home to a remote spot in Jackson County, the sheriff said murder seemed more likely.

Investigators took the victim’s car to the sheriff’s department work center so it could be processed. That’s where it’s currently locked up. Once crime scene technicians finish with the car, they’ll return it to the victim’s family.

Harrison County investigators said they found a weapon at the Pine Bark Lane home they believe is linked to the victim’s death. But, that can’t be confirmed until they receive test results from the state crime lab.

Neither person is from the Coast. The victim is from Minnesota. The sheriff believes Curtis is from Florida.

Curtis is in the Harrison County jail. His bond was set at $1 million. 

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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