Editor’s note: This story was published June 11, 2010.
Accused murderer Timothy Evans wants to die.
Evans, a Hancock County inmate in the Pearl River County jail, admits smothering 70-year-old Wenda Holling in January, then strangling her when that didn’t work.
He is ready to pay for his crime and does not want Holling’s family to wait years for a trial, he told the Sun Herald in an exclusive interview Thursday.
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Evans talked from his side of a window in a closet-size room reserved for lawyer meetings. His ankles remained shackled during the visit, but his hands were free. He didn’t smile. His blue eyes looked tired and sad.
He spoke slowly; his voice was soft, his words deliberate.
“This may sound strange, but I think I deserve to go to death row. I don’t feel I deserve to have that mercy of the court because of what I did,” he said. “I can’t say how much it hurts me for what I’ve done to her and what I did to her family. I think about it every day.”
If he could, he would plead guilty today and get a death sentence, he said. He won’t file appeals.
“I’ll ask them to set the earliest date and leave it at that,” he said.
Evans, 53, said he found religion at the Pearl River County jail after his Feb. 18 arrest in Florida, where he went after the murder. That’s what prompted him to send a handwritten, five-page letter to the Sun Herald detailing his crime. The letter contains a confession, something he had already given to police and investigators.
“Some people get jail-house religion,” he said. “I don’t know what you want to call it. But I accepted the Lord and I made peace.”
Evans said in the letter he killed Holling on Jan. 2, three days before her family reported her missing to Hancock County authorities. Two days later he dumped her body about 20 feet off Turan Road in Harrison County, returning twice to bury her. Someone was always near the area, so he couldn’t do it. “I didn’t want to leave her like that,” he said Thursday, though he eventually did.
To-do list for killing
In the letter Evans chronicles the events leading up to Holling’s death, numbering the steps like a to-do list.
He said he planned the murder the morning of Dec. 20th, setting up a time frame to follow through. “Planned party time, too,” he lists as No. 4.
On Dec. 29 he looked for a suitable place to bury her body, then returned home to her house in Kiln.
Evans said Thursday he and Holling were romantically involved, calling her his girlfriend. He said he lived with her rent-free, but did odd jobs around the house for her.
He had lived with her before, then went to jail on a DUI conviction, he said. Holling visited him for a while, he said. He moved in with her again in May 2009.
Mississippi Department of Corrections records show at the time of the killing Evans was on parole for a third-offense felony DUI, having completed his five-year sentence Oct. 23.
Evans said he was drinking heavily and that may have influenced his decision to kill Holling.
“Things were getting a little rocky,” he said. “I just lost control of my thoughts. I just lost control of what I was doing and what I was thinking.”
He used a pillow to smother her from behind while she sat in a chair watching television. The 5-foot-3-inch, 120-pound woman tried to fight, but was no match for Evans, who was 8 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier.
“The pillow wasn’t working, so I just used my hands,” he said.
She was still breathing when Evans had second thoughts, but he feared what would happen to him. “I had already planned it, so I might as well follow it through,” he said.
Evans wrote that after leaving Hancock County, he traveled around Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
No more running
He used his credit card in Lake City, Fla., then rented a room across the street to wait for U.S. marshals to appear.
“I just decided to stop running and figured it was the easiest way,” he explained in person.
He said he cooperated with Hancock County investigators.
In March, Hancock County Justice Court Judge Jay LaGasse bound over Evans’ case to a grand jury, keeping his bond at $1 million.
Capt. Butch Raby, the warden at the Pearl River County jail, said Evans is kept in a two-man cell, out of the general population because of the nature of his crime against an elderly victim.
Raby granted Evans’ request that he be allowed his personal Bible.
The inmate is quiet and cooperative, he said. He mostly writes letters and reads, and visits with the members of the prison ministry.
“I don’t think he’s ever proclaimed he didn’t do it,” Raby said. “I think he’s ready to deal with what he has to deal with.
In Mississippi, a grand jury must review all felony crimes. Evans’ case is pending review.