Crime

A Facebook chat led to deputies finding his roommate’s body

A Saucier man was arrested on a murder charge after a Florida resident reported a Facebook video-chat conversation about a killing in Harrison County.

Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said Gabriel Benjamin Curtis, 39, was arrested Friday after deputies went to his home in the 1700 block of Pine Bark Lane to check on him Thursday night.

Willis Cassidy Jr., 75, died of a gunshot wound, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said.

Deputies found what appeared to be a violent crime scene, and Curtis admitted he had killed his roommate, Peterson said. Curtis said he didn’t know the name of the location where he disposed of the man’s body.

Curtis led investigators and Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove to a wooded area off exit 75 in Jackson County, and they found the body about 4:45 a.m. Friday, the sheriff said. Exit 75 is the Franklin Creek Road exit. Hargrove said the body was in a wooded area off Pecan Road.

“We don’t really know at this point what led to the killing,” Peterson said.

The sheriff’s department received a phone call about it at 10 p.m. Thursday, he said. The caller and Curtis had been speaking on a Facebook video chat when Curtis reportedly told the person he had killed his roommate Wednesday.

“We are going off what the witness and the suspect told us, but we are waiting on the coroner’s report to determine the accurate time of death,” the sheriff said.

Details are being withheld, such as how the man was killed, where in the house he was killed and how the body was taken to Jackson County.

“Right now we’re trying to determine if anyone else was involved,” Peterson said.

Judge Melvin Ray set Curtis’s bond at $1 million.

Curtis had been convicted of a burglary from a 2012 arrest in Harrison County, the jail docket shows. He was arrested on a grand larceny charge in Harrison County in October but the charge was dismissed. He also has served time in jail for public drunk and failure to pay old fines.

He also was arrested on a charge of firing a weapon in Jackson County but was found not guilty.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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