Mississippi investigators look to positively identify homicide victim

Mississippi investigators look to positively identify homicide victim
Photo provided by WLOX, NBC News in Biloxi, Mississippi.

POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 1:54pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 2:14pm

A small town located along the beach in Mississippi is not used to hearing about violent crimes in their community.

“We have had five homicides over Easter weekend alone and we probably haven’t had that many over the last ten years,” Glenn Grannan, Chief Investigator with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, explained. “We’re a pretty sleepy county. We don’t experience this kind of thing very often.”

The latest tragedy occurred when a cleaning crew located the body of a female along the beach during the morning on Thursday, June 8. All that remained was a torso as the head, legs and arms had been removed.

“We’re treating it as a homicide,” Grannan noted. “Based on the preliminary forensics, we believe the decapitation and dismemberment of the limbs was intentional.”

The body also showed signs of stab wounds to the chest.

“There are some piercings in both breasts at the nipple region and the navel,” Grannan said when describing the woman. “There were also some distinguishing tattoos.”

So far there’s nothing to indicate that the crime happened in Bay St. Louis where the body was found. Rather, they believe the body was carried by the tide and washed ashore.

“The tides can do crazy things,” Grannan said. “If she was in the water a couple of days, like we think, the tides can move fast.”

Due to this, as well as a lack of any missing persons from the area, investigators immediately began looking to law enforcement agencies from neighboring regions for missing person cases that could match the description of the remains found.

“Our priority right now is to positively identify the victim,” he said. “We started out with about five cases of who it could be. We had a couple out of Gulf Port, Mobile, Lafayette, and one out of New Orleans.”

The Lafayette case was missing ULL student Mickey Shunick. However, Shunick was quickly ruled out as a possibility due to the distinguishing marks. The remaining Louisiana-based missing person case out of New Orleans has not yet been ruled out as a possible match.

“What it’s going to take from here is some DNA results and those things take time,” Grannan explained. “I’m hoping that we can positively confirm sometime tomorrow [Saturday, June 9]. I’ve got a couple of them [missing person cases] that it could be, both east and west.”

Although investigators say they have a strong suspicion, they are not ruling out any possible victim until the DNA results return with a positive match.

“We believe we’re on the right track, but we don’t assume anything,” Grannan noted. “It’s important for us to be absolutely positive.”

If you know anything about this incident please contact the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office at (228) 466-6900.

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