Hancock County

Bay St. Louis, fired police officer settle lawsuit

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD 
 Glen Joseph Davis is escorted into the Bay St. Louis Municipal Court in 2012 for a preliminary hearing in the capital murder of retired businessman Maurice Colly, 83. Joseph Kepfer III, who had been lead detective on the case, was fired for falsely implicating another man as a person of interest, among other reasons. Kepfer had sued the city but a judge upheld his firing Monday.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD Glen Joseph Davis is escorted into the Bay St. Louis Municipal Court in 2012 for a preliminary hearing in the capital murder of retired businessman Maurice Colly, 83. Joseph Kepfer III, who had been lead detective on the case, was fired for falsely implicating another man as a person of interest, among other reasons. Kepfer had sued the city but a judge upheld his firing Monday. SUN HERALD

GULFPORT -- Bay St. Louis has settled a lawsuit with a police officer who was fired during a high-profile capital murder investigation in the slaying of a retired businessman.

A lawsuit filed for Joseph "Joe" Kepfer III was dismissed with prejudice Monday, according to an order by Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. Dismissal with prejudice means a complaint can't be brought back up.

The terms of the settlement are undisclosed.

The lawsuit alleged Kepfer, a 22-year veteran of the Bay St. Louis Police Department, was fired because of his age and his disability, identified as cardiac problems. He had sought back pay, retroactive seniority and an unspecified amount of punitive and compensatory damages.

The city had fired Kepfer twice. The former detective sergeant had been brought back in a job his lawsuit described as "a glorified dog catcher."

He was 60 when the city first fired him in April 2012.

He was terminated following investigation of concerns that he had lied to obtain an arrest warrant for a man suspected of using Maurice Colly's credit card after Colly was found dead in the trunk of his own vehicle March 8, 2012. Also, evidence was later found in Colly's home that had been overlooked during an investigative search.

Kepfer was terminated for making unfounded allegations in violation of department policies and failing to properly supervise a subordinate, records show.

The Bay St. Louis Civil Service Commission overrode the city's decision in December 2013, and ordered Kepner be hired back but receive a patrolman's pay. He was re-hired as an animal control officer in January 2014.

Kepfer was fired again April 24, 2014, records show, for failing to perform tasks in a competent manner and for making slanderous remarks about co-workers.

Kepfer had appealed his termination in Hancock County Circuit Court. Judge Larry Bourgeois upheld the firing last May.

Bougeois' order also said the Civil Service Commission had exceeded its authority in over-riding the city's decision to fire Kepfer.

Maurice Colly's body was found March 8, 2012, at the apartment complex he had built in 1998 on North Second Street. Colly, 83, had died of asphyxiation two days earlier.

Kepfer had asked for an arrest warrant on a charge of credit-card fraud, saying he had identified the man who'd used Colly's card and had bank surveillance footage that showed it. That man and a woman were extradited from St. Tammany Parish, La., but charges lodged against both of them were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Later investigation identified the killer as Glen Joseph Davis. The search for Davis was featured on the TV series "America's Most Wanted," which dubbed Davis "the Gulf Coast Casanova" because he had been dating several local women.

Davis was found near Grand Rapids, Mich.

A Hancock County grand jury convicted Davis, now 46, of capital murder in August 2015. He is serving life without parole.

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