Suspect in triple murder a registered sex offender (updated 2 p.m.)

rfitzgerald@sunherald.comApril 8, 2012 

The Sun Herald has learned that the suspect in a triple slaying in Bay St. Louis had two prior convictions for sex crimes.

Anthony Garrett, 46, was convicted in 1985 and 1988 of sexual battery and is listed in public records as a registered sex offender.

Authorities also have identified the three victims of the triple homicide.

Wilton Bernard Jr., 70, his wife, Jeanie Bernard, 61, and Kathleen Deese, 50, were found dead at the Bernards' home on Citizen Street in Bay St. Louis on Saturday night.

Deputy Police Chief Christine Johnson said Deese was the girlfriend of Garrett.

Waveland Police have not yet confirmed whether Garrett jumped or fell from cell phone tower in Waveland after the slaying.

Crime scene tape is still in place around the Bernard home, where an American flag is still flying. A neighbor who did not want to be identified, said the couple were retired and kept to themselves.

Back-to-back autopsies were being conducted today while authorities in Hancock County continue to investigate the incidents.

Six people are dead following a series of slayings reported over an 18-hour period Saturday in Bay St. Louis, Waveland and the Kiln community, and a man's death after a fall from a cell phone tower in Waveland.

Witnesses reported Garrett yelled and cursed at dozens of onlookers who gathered near the tower, which is next to the Knock Knock lounge and a restaurant. One reported the man yelled, "I killed my family."

Coroner Jim Faulk said he is not releasing the names of victims in the other cases until family members have been notified.

"The sheriff's office is going to help me tomorrow by using its database to try to locate some of the family members of the deceased."

The investigations include two fatal shootings. One was Saturday night at a home on Kiln-Waveland Cutoff Road. The other was at a mobile home on Orchid Street.

Authorities say Virginia M. Hill, who was living at the Orchid Street residence, was carrying an assault rifle before dawn when she walked to a neighbor's home and used a telephone to report the death. Hill, 37, has been arrested on a charge of murder.

In the late-night shooting in the Kiln, witnesses reported they saw men arguing on the front porch of a home and another man came up and started firing a handgun. Authorities have not yet confirmed an arrest in that case.

And in the midst of the chaos Saturday night, a robbery was reported at a Shell station at U.S. 90 and Blue Meadow Road, according to sheriff's officials.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is among the agencies trying to help solve some of the homicide cases.

The Sun Herald updates this story as details develop.

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