Shock Grips Stone County Following Murder Of Former Supervisor

Duncan Hatten
Duncan Hatten

STONE COUNTY (WLOX) -- Duncan Hatten was a frequent customer at Serendipity Deli in downtown Wiggins.  News of his horrific murder Tuesday morning shocked Karen Wallsmith.

"After that happened, I wouldn't come back to the store in the afternoon," said Karen Wallsmith. "Murder. Couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe it. Just broke our hearts."

Wallsmith owns this popular restaurant. She went to school with Mr. Hatten. They also went to the same church.

"Everybody knew everybody," said Wallsmith. "Never think that would ever happen. So it's really sad. Sad for the family and it's going to be a big loss for our community."

That's because Mr. Hatten was so active in the community. He served two terms on the Stone County Board of Supervisors, as well as the county's school board and numerous organizations. Most of all, he was a friend.

"He was a people person. Very active in the community, and always trying to help somebody," said Dwain Brewer, Warden of the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility. "Raised in this county, there was nobody he didn't know. People are just shocked. They're upset. They're mad, thinking who could have done something like this?"

Here's the latest on the investigation into Mr. Hatten's murder. A man deputies were questioning on Wednesday has not been charged with any crime. The man lives in Mr. Hatten's neighborhood. And the sheriff says they found a t-Shirt with blood stains on it in the man's house. They're having shirt tested this week.

With the killer still on the loose, many in this quiet community are worried about their own safety. Deputies spent Wednesday morning patrolling neighborhoods, trying to ease residents' fears.

"Everybody's scared because at this point, we don't have nobody in custody," said Stone County Sheriff Mike Farmer. "There's a lot of sorrow, sad faces. It's quiet."

The sheriff says investigating a crime that involves someone he knows so well is tough.

"Probably one of my saddest days and one of my busiest days," said Farmer. "And it's a tragedy. He's just a good friend to the whole community."

It's a community that's praying for justice, especially for the Hatten family.

"I just hope some way they can find peace about it all," said Wallsmith. "Just kind of understanding of why this happened."

Crimestoppers opened a hot line Wednesday, hoping the public will call-in with tips to help solve the murder. Crimestoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. The president of the South East Mississippi Crimestoppers says this crime is a personal one.

"Duncan Hatten is our former board of supervisor and a close friend and we are anxious to find this killer," said John Altman. "And that's why we're doubling the reward money. We think it's very, very important."

The Crimestoppers Tip Line is 1-888-313-8477. Remember, the call is free and confidential.