Crime

These Coast cold cases are unsolved and people still missing. Do you have a tip?

Joe Lyons looks over a magazine article featuring his brother Phil Lyons in 2008.  Phil was murdered in Gulfport in 2002, and the case remains cold.
Joe Lyons looks over a magazine article featuring his brother Phil Lyons in 2008. Phil was murdered in Gulfport in 2002, and the case remains cold. Sun Herald file

Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers is featuring seven cold cases this month, which include a search for suspects in three Coast murder cases and four other missing persons in South Mississippi. To report information in a case, call Crime Stoppers at 877-587-5898, text or log on to leave a tip with Crime Stoppers.

All tips are confidential. Rewards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction in a case.

Here’s a look at the cases.

Unsolved murders

Philip Alton “Phil” Lyons: The 64-year-old was a retired engineer with Mississippi Power Co. when his body was found in the trunk of his 1998 Cadillac Eldorado on Aug. 14, 2002. His car was found abandoned in a beachfront parking lot after a woman called to report a foul odor around the car. Harrison County investigators believe Lyons was likely robbed and shot to death on Aug. 6, 2002. By the time his body was found, Harrison County investigators said, someone had used his bank card to empty his account of $1,400. Harrison County investigators suspect a homeless person or transient may have been involved in the killing. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office is investigating

Kenny Peters Sr.: The 45-year-old was found shot to death in his a home on 20th Street in Gulfport in December 2017. The shooting was reported around 4:15 a.m., and when authorities went to investigate, they found his body inside the home. Gulfport police are investigating.

Wanted for murder

Xavier Lamar Simmons: The 19-year-old of D’Iberville is wanted on charges of murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in connection with a June 6 shooting in the 500 block of Washington Street. Bay St. Louis police say he and a co-defendant are accused in the killing of D’Ante Washington. The murder victim was a popular rapper known as Ta Spitta, who left behind a 1-year-old son. Simmons should be considered armed and dangerous. Bay St. Louis police are investigating.

Missing persons

Desmond Moore: He hasn’t been seen since Aug. 30, 2014, when he walking to Pizza Hut on U.S. 90 in Gautier. The then-24-year-old stayed in close contact with his mother, Delaina Moore, who hasn’t heard from him. Gautier police said they have not received any information to indicate any foul play but have not had any luck finding Moore. His mother and friends took to the streets, handing out fliers in hopes of finding him, after his disappearance. Gautier police are investigating.

Joe “Jobey” Taylor Vaughn: Then 23, he disappeared sometime after his father dropped him off to fish at a pond off Mississippi 57 in Vancleave on July 17, 2005. Vaughn was supposed to use a phone at a nearby neighbor’s home to call his father to pick him up, but he never made the call. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.

Brian Kent Martin: He was reported missing in December 2000 at the age of 24. After his disappearance, his mother, Robyn Martin, came to coastal Mississippi and went to local bars on the U.S. 90 strip and elsewhere. He had fled the state of Georgia, his family said, after his former fellow gang members beat him when Martin refused to commit a murder. After the beating, a friend nursed Martin back to health until he could leave Georgia and escape his ties to the gang there. Martin came to coastal Mississippi afterward. Retired Biloxi police Investigator Mike Manna reopened the investigation and said Martin was likely dead. Biloxi police are investigating.

Gary Lee Hope: Then 59, he was last seen leaving work in Pass Christian on July 20, 2017, and was reported missing four days later. His black 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck was found at the Tuxachanie Hiking Trail on U.S. 49 in Saucier on Aug. 3, 2017. Despite searches for Hope along the hiking trail as well, authorities have been unable to locate Hope. He is known to carry a black backpack and has two scars, one on his abdomen and another above his right eye. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.

Margaret Baker 228-896-0538, margar45

Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia-based company, uses genetic traits from DNA samples to predict the suspect's physical appearance, including ancestry, hair and eye color. The technology could help police solve cold cases.

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