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Title: Third Sheriff Revisits Unsolved May Case


Ell - January 22, 2009 08:30 AM (GMT)
Third sheriff revisits unsolved May case
By CHRIS ALLEN BAKER, News Editor
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 10:21 AM CST
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FOREST—Sheriff Mike Lee was 16 years old high school sophomore when Shondra May was reported missing and later found in a Hinds County creek in 1986 and now, he is the third sheriff to inherit what is considered by many as one of the highest profile cases in Scott County history.

It is one of three of what can be described as “cold cases” involving deaths that remain unresolved years after the crimes. May’s case dates back as far as 1986 while the others include Mousie Boxx in 2005 and Sidney Jones in 2001.

Lee, now 38, has all three cases on his watch as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.

“These are important cases to the community and we take them very seriously. Our staff of qualified investigators know the importance of these cases to the victims’ families,” Lee said. Winning at the Health Insurance Game
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Boxx, who lived on Davis Road near Forkville, was found murdered in Rankin County. Jones was found murdered near Morton.

“We are continuing to work leads on all of the cases and looking for fresh new approaches to solving these cases,” Lee said.

But the one that still haunts much of the county is that of Shondra May who lived in the Pea Ridge community near the Scott-Leake county line. At the age of 17, she was reported missing on Feb. 4, 1986, and her body was found in a creek near Bolton in Hinds County. While a reward for information grew to more than $50,000 as one of the largest in state history at the time, no arrests have been made.

“I think every sheriff who has had a chance at this case would love to solve it,” Lee said, referring to former sheriffs Glen Warren and William S. Richardson. “Honestly, I would love to have that opportunity.”

Lee said when he took office last year, one of the first things outgoing Sheriff Richardson presented was Shondra May’s file. As Forest Police Chief before becoming sheriff, Lee kept up with the case and often forwarded information about it from sources to the sheriff’s department.

The case has grown into two containers, one which he personally is reviewing and another which investigator Capt. Willie Anderson is reviewing. Between the two containers, Lee said the case file includes thousands of documents.

“I can remember personally when she was found. It gripped all of Scott County. There were scared parents and it is something that has always been on my mind,” Lee said. “Things like this just didn’t happen back then. It was horrific.”

Lee said one of the key things to note is the advancement of technology and criminal science that exists today as opposed to that of 1986. “We could process so much more evidence than we could back then. It would have been nice to have then what we have now,” Lee said.

Lee said the timing was interesting when this newspaper called to ask about the case because he had recently received two phone calls from persons inquiring about it as well. At the same time, he said great effort will be made to handle the case correctly.

“We are going to work on it and try to solve it. I believe right now that this department has the best investigative team it has ever had and I believe in what our staff can do. We are looking at a number of leads and this case will get a thorough review,” Lee said. “I would love to crack this case but I won’t go after someone just because. We will have our facts first.

In the time that May’s case has lingered in limbo, her father, Richard, is reportedly still working for a barge line on the Mississippi River while her mother, Genell, has passed away. A phone listing for Richard May in the local directory is disconnected.

Lee did not identify any particular individual in discussing his review of the case.

In previously published reports, Willie McCurdy was considered at one time years ago, but investigators ruled him out after he passed a polygraph lie detector test.

It was reported in 1993 that Brandon resident Kenneth McLain, then 35, was considered a suspect in the May case. Charges against him in Hinds County were dismissed in a case where he was accused of pulling a woman over while impersonating a police officer and sexually assaulting her. At the time of May’s death, one theory revolved around a suspect who was believed to have stopped her while using a blue light and posing as a law enforcement authority. Investigators in previous reports acknowledged the theory but did not confirm it as a valid theory.

Sid Salter, former editor and publisher of The Scott County Times, covered the case from day one and was involved in helping to raise reward money for the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible. Salter said last week he is optimistic but skeptical about the resolution.

“While it is unlikely after 20 years that the case will be solved, I have never given up hope that someone motivated by guilt would come forward,” Salter said. “The family has suffered a great deal. Her tombstone does not have a date of death.”

According to published accountings of the case, on Feb. 4, 1986, May went to school that morning at Leake Academy. That evening, about 6 p.m., she clocked in at the local McDonald's for her shift. It was a slow night, though, and she clocked out at 7:24 p.m. but waited around for a little while to see if business would pick back up.

Before making it home, she slipped into the then TG&Y to purchase an oversized Valentine's Day card, most likely for her steady beau, Tony Adams, then 19, of Edinburg. It was there that May was last reported seen alive. At 8:15 p.m., her mother became worried when she did not arrive home when expected.

After the family started a search, May’s mother stepped out her front door and saw Shondra's car parked some 75 yards from the house, but Shondra was nowhere to be seen. The car door was open, but no signs of a struggle could be found. Her purse and other personal belongings were all present. The Mays told authorities that all they could find missing was her driver's license.

For 22 days the family waited anxiously for details of what had happened until the morning of Feb. 26, on what would have been Shondra’s 18th birthday. An off-duty Jackson fireman discovered Shondra May's body floating in Baker Creek near Bolton. Dental records were used to identify the body. After two autopsies, the cause of death was ruled as strangulation.


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