Crime

Vancleave teen beaten to death, dumped in woods

Cliff Allyn’s family speaks out about accused killer, cousin

Dexter Mandoza Kelley, 19, is held without bond in death of 16-year-old Cliff Allyn. Allyn's grandmother and mother speak about the case.
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Dexter Mandoza Kelley, 19, is held without bond in death of 16-year-old Cliff Allyn. Allyn's grandmother and mother speak about the case.

PASCAGOULA -- The 16-year-old killed last week was beaten to death and dumped in the woods about 200 yards from his grandmother's home in rural Vancleave, his mother and authorities confirmed Tuesday morning.

"They told me he didn't suffer," said Jennifer "Jenny" Smith, the teen's mother, after seeing her son's body at a funeral home. "He got beaten real bad. They wouldn't let his head be shown because he was beaten so bad.

"My baby suffered."

Dexter Mandoza Kelley, 19, is accused in the killing of his cousin Cliff Allyn.

At a court appearance Tuesday, County Court Judge T. Larry Wilson denied Kelley bond and said an attorney would be appointed to represent him. A preliminary hearing will be held in May, the judge said, and a bond could be set at that time.

For now, Wilson said, he felt Kelley was "a danger to the community."

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell confirmed Tuesday that Allyn's official cause of death is blunt force trauma to the body from a beating.

Kelley's and Allyn's grandmother, Kitty Johnson, and Smith showed up for the hearing, but it had already ended. They talked to the Sun Herald afterward.

When Johnson heard Kelley had been denied bond, she said, "They need to keep him. If they didn't keep him, I'd kill him myself."

Johnson believes Kelley was jealous of her close relationship with Allyn, because of her "loving Cliffy more than I love everybody."

"Cliffy was like my son," Johnson said. "I had Cliffy all my life and now he's gone."

Kelley, a Meridian native, has been held at the Jackson County jail on a first-degree murder charge since his arrest Thursday. He was arrested shortly after sheriff's K-9s discovered Allyn's body in heavy woods behind his grandmother's home.

He had been reported missing a day earlier.

Johnson last saw him playing basketball with Kelley and his brother outside her home, which she shared with Allyn. When she walked back out, Allyn wasn't there and Kelley was back at a mobile home he lived in on the property. She went to check on Allyn about 45 minutes later and he was nowhere to be found.

Smith, who was wearing a University of Alabama jersey Tuesday because her son was a huge fan, did not want Kelley released from jail on bond for fear he would hurt somebody else.

Her son trusted Kelley, she said.

"He killed an innocent boy," she said. "If he did that, just imagine what else he could do. I just hate it was my child. I just want to know why and I'll probably never know."

Kelley has had other run-ins with law enforcement.

The Sun Herald learned he had admitted threatening the lives of his father, brother and other relatives with knives and scissors.

His mother said in one report she was trying to get him into a state mental hospital in Meridian because of a "mental disorder."

Other relatives said Kelley's family tried to get him help. They'd sent him to a hospital, but it wouldn't keep him. The same was true when he was arrested; authorities wouldn't continue to hold him.

Johnson and Smith said they have no sympathy for Kelley.

"I had to see what my grandson (Allyn) looked like," she said. "His face is a mess. His back is all cut up."

She said Kelley has "got the demon in him."

"He's always been that way," she said.

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