Crime

Man wanted in capital murder case may still be in Jackson County

Thomas Elliot Stafford
Thomas Elliot Stafford

The man sought in the capital murder case of a man killed and stuffed in a freezer could still be in Jackson County. And he’s said to be armed and dangerous.

Thomas Elliot Stafford, 40, reportedly stole the dead man’s car, sold it to a cousin in Mt. Vernon, Alabama, March 5, and had the cousin drive him back to Jackson County, Sheriff Mike Ezell said.

Stafford faces prosecution in the slaying of Jerry Floyd Kirkendall, 65, who owned the gold 2001 Cadillac Seville SLS that Stafford allegedly stole.

The car was found at the cousin’s home Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Ezell said Wednesday. Stafford’s cousin, who lives about 20 miles north of Mobile, is not being identified. Investigators searched it but Ezell declined to say if they found any evidence.

The cousin earlier Wednesday told investigators Stafford had sold him the car for cash and a 9mm Taurus handgun, Ezell said. The cousin reportedly told investigators he hasn’t seen Stafford since he drove him back to Jackson County.

Kirkendall was found dead in a freezer at his home this week. How he was killed remains unclear.

Stafford, wanted on a capital murder charge, is still on the lam. Federal marshals are helping search for him. Anyone who sees him or knows where he may be is asked to call the nearest law enforcement agency.

Kirkendall, who was new to Mississippi, had been living in a rental home with Stafford on Althea Street in Latimer’s Virginia City area. His car has an Indiana license plate.

Kirkendall apparently had been dead more than two weeks when Jackson County deputies received a call at 6:30 a.m. Monday about a body found stuffed in a chest freezer. The freezer was unplugged but the house had electrical service, the sheriff said.

The property owner reported he last saw Kirkendall on March 3, which is when investigators believe he died, Ezell said.

Capital murder is a killing committed in conjunction with another felony crime, in this case auto theft. The penalty is death or life without parole.

An autopsy is being performed at the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory near Jackson.

“It all hinges on what the pathologist finds,” Jackson County Deputy Coroner Jason Moody said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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