Crime

He was shot in the head in 2009, and Biloxi police want to find his killer

A Biloxi police officer searches the fence at a gated community where Xavier Seales was shot to death in a home invasion on Aug. 7, 2009. His killing at The Lexington apartments is unsolved.
A Biloxi police officer searches the fence at a gated community where Xavier Seales was shot to death in a home invasion on Aug. 7, 2009. His killing at The Lexington apartments is unsolved. amccoy@sunherald.com

Police say evidence in the unsolved killing of Xavier Seales indicates an intruder surprised him in a gated apartment complex and sneaked out hurriedly after shooting him in the head.

Seales, 38, was found dead Aug. 7, 2009, at The Lexington on Lejuene Drive just south of Pass Road in West Biloxi. Police say whoever killed him left in a rush when someone knocked on Seales’ door.

His killing started as a home invasion, and robbery was the motive, said Detective Lt. Christopher De Back of the Biloxi Police Department.

It’s been nearly seven years with no arrests in the slaying of a man friends described as having a funny personality, a heart of gold and the compassion of a father figure.

They called him Xa, pronounced Zay.

What he wanted to do most of all was to take care of his daughter and to help his mother as her health got worse.

Michael Hollins, a friend of Xavier Seales

Seales had become disabled from health problems, but friends said his daughter and his mother were his top priorities and he enjoyed spending time with others.

Caught by surprise

Seales was sharing a ground-floor apartment with an offshore worker in the apartment complex between Rue Petit Bois and Big Lake Road.

He was expecting a friend to drop by early that Friday morning, according to police records shared by De Back. Seales and the friend had talked on the phone and the friend stopped to buy some chips and dip before going to the apartment. The friend knew Seales was home alone, or should have been. Seales’ roommate was working offshore.

The friend knocked on the door and heard a commotion inside. The door was locked. He dropped his bag of chips and dip and forced his way in. The friend found Seales lying dead on the floor and signs of a struggle.

The man began to scream and cry out for help. He called 911 at 4:38 a.m.

Neighbors who lived in the same building later told police they were asleep or dressing for work when they heard a man’s screams.

The apartment was well-kept, but part of it had been ransacked, De Back said.

Evidence shows an intruder broke in through a locked window, catching Seales by surprise, and left hurriedly through the patio door, De Back said. It’s unclear if there was more than one intruder.

Hours later, police could still be seen through the fence talking to people at the complex and searching the fence line.

Police ruled out Seales’ roommate as a suspect.

Did the shooter scale the fence or was the shooter living or visiting there? What was taken? And how many shots were fired?

De Back said those details are being withheld. The killer knows the details, he said, and may have told someone by now.

The case file is contained in overstuffed 3-inch binders that contain reports, requests for ballistics and DNA tests and CDs that include the 911 call and documents of phone records and the contents of Seales’ phone.

A doting father, friend

WaShanda Seales was 13 when she learned her father had been killed. She and her mother had moved to Jackson two months earlier. Her mother, a FEMA worker, was on assignment in Baton Rouge. WaShanda, out of school for the summer, learned the news from a relative.

WaShanda had spent weekends with her dad before she and her mother left the Mississippi Coast. Losing her father left a void in her life.

He always made sure I had new clothes, new shoes and my hair was done. We loved to spend time together.

WaShanda Seales, his daughter

“I was a Daddy’s girl,” she said. “I never got ‘no’ for an answer.”

“He always made sure I had new clothes, new shoes and my hair was done. We loved to spend time together. We would go to the movies, go out to eat. His favorite thing to eat was steak. We would take day trips to Alabama to go shopping. He loved to shop, too.”

She remembers her father stayed busy even after he was diagnosed with disabling health conditions. He had a lot of doctors’ appointments locally and out of state.

“I knew when he wasn’t feeling good, but it didn’t slow him down,” WaShanda said. “He still got up and we went out and did the things we enjoyed doing.”

She remembers her father as a caring and giving person, always willing to help others. For instance, she remembers the time a family friend, who had children, died. Her father would call the mother to check on her and the children. He would also pick up the children and take them and WaShanda bowling or out to eat. And he’d check to see if the children needed clothes, shoes or anything else.

One of her proudest memories, she said, is when her father showed up to watch her play basketball for Pass Christian Middle School. He had only seen her play basketball at home.

“He’d been really sick and making a lot of doctors’ trips,” she said. “He just showed up at my game. I was so happy.”

WaShanda, now 20, is a full time student at Jackson State University, where she’s majoring in health care administration. She also works as a tutor and teacher for Operation Shoestring and has a year-old son who, she said, “looks exactly like my Dad.”

WaShanda said she hopes police can find her father’s killer.

“I would have some real closure,” she said.

‘Always a good guy’

Seales had played football for Gulfport High School and earned a full college scholarship. He had been employed as a postal worker, a prison guard in Louisiana and a medical tech at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

“He was like my little brother,” said Michael Hollins, about six years older than Seales. “He was close to my mom, my entire family and especially my sisters.”

“He was always a good guy.”

Seales and Hollins and their families knew each other from the Turn Key neighborhood, also known as Forest Heights. They both had sisters. Hollins’ mother and Seales’ grandmother had worked together at Head Start. And Seales’ grandmother was the hair-dresser for Hollins’ mother.

“When I went off to the military, my sisters stayed in better touch with Xa than they did me,” Hollins said. “They saw him every week, if not every day.”

Hollins and Seales had worked together about six months after Hollins returned home from military service. They worked for a company with a Long Beach office. The two made cross-country trips to install metal racks at manufacturing plants and a meat-packing business.

“We traveled from Detroit to Chicago to Canada,” Hollins said. “It was the coldest part of the year, there was snow, and we’re both Southern boys doing what we had to do.”

Seales later put on weight, reaching 350 pounds or more, Hollins said, and developed health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure.

He lost weight but the weight had already “caused its damages,” Hollins said.

‘Wasn’t hard to make him happy’

“He liked sports but he loved cars,” Hollins said. “He liked the ladies and he liked dressing up. He enjoyed hanging out, going out to eat, going out to movies. He loved to watch fireworks at the beach. It wasn’t hard to make him happy.

“What he wanted to do most of all was to take care of his daughter and to help his mother as her health got worse.”

Seales’ mother, Georgia Christy-Johnson, died about three years after he was killed.

Seales had a brother and five sisters. Most of them were living in other states.

“Xa had started attending church again and planned to get re-baptized,” Hollins said. “He was making it one step at a time.”

Hollins said Seales was a good friend to many.

“He was loyal to a fault,” he said.

No relation to another killing

Rumors flew after Seales’ death. He had been subpoenaed to testify in a murder trial in Jackson County three days later. It raised concerns on whether Seales was killed to prevent him from testifying.

Seales had been roommates with Brent Jackson Jr., a popular Biloxi Wal-Mart worker found shot to death April 14, 2008. Jackson had borrowed Seales’ 1984 Buick Regal.

Jackson’s body was found in a sparsely populated area of Moss Point. Seales’ car was found in Grand Bay, Ala. Prosecutors have said stolen items included $5,000 in cash, some drugs and personal items belonging to Jackson.

Seales was expected to testify that he had been with Jackson the day of his slaying and to identify Jackson’s personal belongings.

Two men went to prison for Jackson’s killing. Assistant District Attorney Tony Lawrence told the Sun Herald that Seales was not present for Jackson’s killing and there was no evidence to show Seales knew the two killers, both now serving time in prison.

Biloxi police investigators also have maintained Seales’ killing was unrelated to Jackson’s killing.

De Back has said everyone questioned by police in Seales’ killing has had nothing but good things to say about him. And he believes Seales’ case is solvable.

Anyone with information is asked to call Biloxi police at 228-392-0641 or Crime Stoppers at 897-787-5898 or give an anonymous tip online at mscoastcrimestoppers.com.

“We have a lot of good information, but we need additional information to tie everything together,” De Back said. “Someone coming forward would certainly help tie things together.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

To give a tip

  • Call Biloxi police at (228) 392-0641
  • Call Crime Stoppers at (897) 787-5898
  • Give tip online at mscoastcrimestoppers.com
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