Woman shot, killed on I-10 in Gulfport; Ridgeland man charged with murder, motor vehicle theft

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 8:05 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - We’re learning more about a murder and motor vehicle robbery on I-10 that left 23-year-old Nila Marie Stennis dead.

At around 2:34 a.m. the morning of November 27, officers with Gulfport PD responded to an area near the 35-mile marker of I-10 after being contacted by a semi-truck driver who found a body, later identified as Stennis. When they arrived, Stennis was found lying in the roadway and pronounced dead by medical personnel. As Harrison County coroner Brian Switzer searched Stennis, he found a gunshot wound in the left side of Stennis’ head. Officers were unable to find a nearby vehicle, leaving them to discover how she arrived at her location.

I-10 near mile marker 35
I-10 near mile marker 35(WLOX)

A detective with Gulfport PD observed that Stennis was wearing what appeared to be a black body suit that had been torn and rolled down to her waist; they also recognized a blue wrist band on Stennis’ wrist. It was found that the wristband had come from Elaine’s Place to Be in Gulfport.

A detective then spoke with a relative of Stennis in Pascagoula, who stated that Stennis’ boyfriend, later identified as 32-year-old Deondrick Mychahl Jones of Ridgeland, was staying with Stennis. The relative stated Stennis and Jones planned on traveling to Gulfport from Gautier to visit a bar. They also noted Jones hadn’t returned to the house.

Obtained video surveillance showed Stennis and Jones arriving to Elaine’s at 12:26 a.m. the night she was found dead. The pair left at 1:51 a.m. and arrived to Island View Casino in Gulfport at 1:58 a.m., where they had a brief altercation outside of their car before getting back in and leaving at 2:02 a.m. Using several surveillance cameras along Highway 49, the car could be seen passing a McDonald’s found at 9500 Hwy 49 at 2:09 a.m. Friends of Stennis were able to give investigators a screenshot of the last known location of her phone at 2:10 a.m. near 14730 Seaway Road, just south of I-10 where Stennis’ body was found.

Stennis and Jones' path from Elaine's Place To Be to I-10 mile marker 35, where her body was...
Stennis and Jones' path from Elaine's Place To Be to I-10 mile marker 35, where her body was found.(WLOX)

At 5:11 a.m., a tag reader in the area of Hwy 49 and Old Pearson Road in Richland picked up Jones’ tag, allowing detectives to earn his address on Lansdowne Lane in Ridgeland.

On December 7, police spoke to Jones’ family, who said they had spoken to Jones a few times over the past week. According to them, Jones left town with Stennis before Thanksgiving and was supposed to be out-of-state for work. When the family spoke to Jones he said he was still in Mississippi. He also mentioned that Stennis was dead, but couldn’t explain what happened to her although he did say they had been in a fight on the interstate. Jones said he was picked up by a friend, who he was staying with.

Later that day, investigators with the Madison Police Department travelled to the friend’s home at an apartment complex in Jackson, where they saw Stennis’ car in the parking lot. At 8:40 p.m., Jones was seen driving the car away from the complex.

At 9:05 p.m., Madison PD stopped the vehicle on I-55 near mile marker 108 and took Jones into custody.

Deondrick Mychahl Jones, 32, of Ridgeland.
Deondrick Mychahl Jones, 32, of Ridgeland.(Gulfport Police Department)

Police revisited the friend’s home and learned through the friend that Jones had been staying at the apartment for the past week and a half. At 12:30 a.m., they carried out a search warrant on the home and found a Bersa .380 firearm with one magazine and a wallet containing Stennis’ ID among Jones’ belongings. A search warrant was later carried out on Stennis’ car, where a bullet was recovered from inside the passenger seat.

Jones is currently charged with first degree murder and motor vehicle theft. He is being held at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center in lieu of a $1,100,000 bond.

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