Death of Pascagoula man under investigation 40 years later

Death of Pascagoula man under investigation 40 years later

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - An episode of Cold Justice aired Sunday night on Oxygen. In that episode, investigators exhumed the body of Tye Breeland, a Jackson County man who was believed to have committed suicide in 1975. His then wife of eight months, Kathie Short, was the sole witness.

"It was ruled a suicide based on the information given by Kathie in 1975," said Lt. Darren Versiga.

Lt. Darren Versiga has worked with the Pascagoula Police Department for nearly 20 years. In 2008, he says, Breeland's family asked that the case be reopened.

"I had been approached by family members that did not ever believe it was suicide," said Breeland.

A lot of evidence pertaining to the decades old case had been lost during Hurricane Katrina. But what police did have, Versiga says, is a recording of Kathie Short talking with the coroner about that fatal night.

"It was going to be a closed open shut case, however when I interviewed Kathie, she came up with a completely different scenario of what happened in 1975," said Versiga.

Kathie Short attended a Gulfport Memorial Hospital board of trustees meeting Monday. She serves as secretary on the board. We tried to ask her about the show and evidence suggesting she had anything to do with Breeland's death. She declined to comment on the matter.

Her attorney, Gayle Nicholson, did give us the following statement:

"There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. The guy who is the investigator is completely irresponsible and intimidates people, such as those on the television program, to further his own purposes. I've known Kathie Short personally and professionally and have represented her for many years. She's a responsible, good citizen. That death was ruled a suicide more than 40 years ago and that's what it was and all it will ever be. These people ought to be ashamed of themselves for the emotional distress they are causing Kathie and her family in putting together this piece of fiction that was on television.We will not be giving any more publicity to this than has already been created. This is hard enough on Kathy as it is and every time it is brought up or on TV, she must face more questions from friends and from a professional capacity. There are no basis to these allegations."

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence sent us a statement saying in part... "The  information developed by Darren Versiga, the Pascagoula Police Department and the show "Cold Justice" will be fully evaluated by the Jackson County District Attorney's office,"

Nine years since beginning the new investigation, Lt. Versiga believes they're pretty close to taking their evidence before a grand jury.

"Kathie got herself into this stuff based on words she said. These are words out of, not Darren Versiga's mouth out of Kathie Short's mouth, things that's got this case going the way it's going," said Versiga.

Short's term as a member of the hospital board of trustees was up in July. We have learned it's standard practice to continue to serve in that role until a new board member is named or the trustee is asked to continue serving.

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