The year started out on a positive note. Crime was down 19 percent in Hattiesburg in the first four months of 2018.
Between February and April, the city saw three homicides. Then there was a period of nearly three months — between April and June — without one.
Then the bottom fell out. From June 29 to Nov. 27, the city saw 11 homicides, bringing the total to 14 — more than any year in recent history.
The reasons for the homicides aren’t always known, but there is one thing Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker can say with certainty.
“Of the homicides that we have had this year, there is a common trend, and it’s that the victim and suspect, or suspects knew one another,” he said. “There seems to be no trend, other than the fact that all of these incidents have stemmed from altercations that usually are a result of a heat-of-passion incident.”
Community policing and the new Operation Quality of Life action plan have helped lower the overall crime rate, but residents play a large role in securing their own safety.
“People need to remember that it’s OK to walk away,” Parker said. “If it is a heated argument or a bad situation, it’s OK to walk away. We cannot be in everyone’s home or apartment every time an argument leads to more, because we aren’t notified until after the incident has occurred.”
Reporting crime or potential crime is another way of reducing the chance of becoming a victim of a homicide, especially if it is a domestic situation.
“If you are a victim of domestic violence, any incident needs to be reported to proper authorities,” Parker said. “We take domestic violence seriously, we even have a domestic violence unit that handles all of those cases. We constantly work on educating the public on signs of domestic violence, and avenues of help for people to seek when needed.”
Operation Quality of Life has put additional patrols throughout the city, so officer visibility is much higher with patrols saturating areas with a large number of incidents reported.
“We have implemented our Quality of Life plan of action, and ever since then, we have seen an impact in a variety of areas across the city,” Parker said. “We also need help from others in the community.
“We can’t be everywhere all the time, so we need citizens in the community to be our eyes and ears, and when you see something, say something.”
Even with the rise of homicides, Parker said the overall crime rate in the city is down 5 percent over 2017.
“This year our number of homicides is up, but they have all been isolated incidents,” Parker said.
Hattiesburg police have made arrests in all of the 2018 homicide cases, Parker said.
“There are still aspects in all our cases that we work on until the district attorney’s office handles the case in court for prosecution,” Parker said.
Hattiesburg saw 13 homicides in 2014. In 2017, there were three homicides. There were eight in 2016 and six in 2015, including two Hattiesburg police officers shot and killed during a traffic stop.
At a glance
- Nov. 27: Tomaka Jones, 44, of Hattiesburg, was found dead around 1 a.m. inside a residence in the 200 block of Oak Street. He died of multiple gunshot wounds. A woman, later identified as Marlena Joy Owens, was taken from the scene to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries. She allegedly was shot in the back. Four people were charged: Tykevious Durr, 21, Andre Snell, 31, and a 17-year-old, identified in court as Tomaz Hinton, were charged with capital murder — a murder committed during an armed robbery — and aggravated assault. Konswaylo Durr, 41, was charged with hindering prosecution. She is the mother of Tykevious Durr and Snell’s girlfriend.
- Nov. 23: Nicholas McNeil, 29, of Hattiesburg, was stabbed to death around 1:30 p.m. in the 200 block of North 40th Avenue. Johnny McKay, 55, of Hattiesburg, was charged with murder. During the investigation, officers learned McKay had allowed the victim to stay at his apartment. An altercation occurred when McNeil was asked to leave and refused.
- Nov. 9: Jack Eagan Kelly, 19, of Louisiana died of vascular trauma from stab wounds. Four men were charged in his death. Alleged killer, 22-year-old Alexander Rivera, was charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit a felony for possession of narcotics and hindering prosecution/obstruction of justice. Delbert Kennedy III, 23, of Hattiesburg, was charged with accessory after the fact of second-degree murder, hindering prosecution/obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a felony for possession of narcotics. Nineteen-year-old Klayton King of Slidell was charged with hindering prosecution/obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a felony for sale of narcotics. Hayden Calico, 18, of Louisiana, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime (sale of controlled substance and armed robbery), hindering prosecution and attempted armed robbery.
- Oct. 29: Jaurice Patton, 25, of Hattiesburg, was found unresponsive in the parking lot of 1230 Beverly Hills Road. He had been strangled to death. Brian Miller, 32, of Hattiesburg, was charged with second-degree murder.
- Oct. 6: Marlon Brown, 37, of Hattiesburg was stabbed to death in an altercation in the 900 block of Dabbs Street. Orange “Owen” Nelson, 55, was charged with first-degree murder.
- Sept. 23: Anquanette Alexander, 22, allegedly shot and killed her 31-year-old boyfriend Greg Hawthorne in the 900 block of Cypress Avenue. She also is one of nine people who was convicted for conspiracy in connection with the deaths of Hattiesburg police officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. Also charged in the homicide was Nikarra Duncan, 41, of Hattiesburg, who is accused of obstruction of justice.
- Sept. 7: Michael Paul McLendon, 38, of Forrest County, was shot and killed around 1 p.m. in a parking lot in the 4700 block of Hardy Street. Justin Lee Anderson, 30, is charged with murder in his death.
- Aug. 16: Joel “Chad” Graves, 45, of Hattiesburg was charged in the shooting death of his son, Joel “Scott” Graves, 20, at Chad Graves’ home at Breckenridge Apartments.
- Aug. 11: Ricky Perkins, 59, of Hattiesburg, was shot along with two others during a domestic incident at a residence on the 300 block of East Scooba Street. Perkins died on the way to the hospital. Shane Ware, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in Perkins’ death as well as two counts of aggravated assault.
- July 25: Talitha Mack, 31, of Jackson, was shot and killed at Merimac Apartments on the 600 block of North 25th Avenue. Orean Samuel, 26, of Hattiesburg, was charged with first-degree murder.
- June 29: Nicholas Faulkner, 30, is accused of stabbing to death 50-year-old Antonio Tatum of Hattiesburg outside Broadway Wine & Liquor on June 29.
- April 5: Ten suspects, including alleged shooter Jonathan Jones, 26, of Laurel, were charged in connection with the shooting death of 20-year-old Mark Gould at Pineview Apartments.
- March 25: Deborah McGee, 63, was stabbed to death in her Dewey Street home. Police have released little information about her death. Her niece Ebony Lambert’s boyfriend, Andrew Presley, 53, of Hattiesburg, is charged with murder in McGee’s death. Lambert, 40, who has a child with Presley, and Presley’s friend Jordan Stewart, 53, both of Hattiesburg, were charged with hindering the investigation.
- Feb. 8: Hattiesburg police responded to a medical call in the 200 block of Unetta Street and found 30-year-old Jamie Pittman suffering from a gunshot wound. She died later at a local hospital. Two people were arrested in connection with her death. John Erskin Roberts Jr., 31, of Hattiesburg is charged with first-degree murder. Torriana Lechelle Wesley, 21, of Hattiesburg is charged with accessory after the fact.