Sep 19, 2012

Detectives confirm nail gun as weapon

Suspicious car seen

The subject of a Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff Department murder investigation likely was killed with a nail gun, according to department spokeswoman Elizabeth Jones.

Jones confirmed the suspected murder weapon Tuesday, saying that the nail gun was found next to the body of real-estate agent Annette Wyatt on the floor of her office.

Wyatt was discovered dead Sunday by a colleague at the Harte Agency, located inside the strip mall at 1923 University Avenue.

She had what appeared to be at least one puncture wound in her neck, but Jones declined to speculate on the exact cause of death until receiving the coroner's report. It's unclear when that report will be completed and released to the public.

Owner of nearby business expresses safety concerns

In the meantime, Yoknapatawpha County investigators have been interviewing people associated with Wyatt and the Harte Agency. But, as of Tuesday, they haven't named any suspects or made any arrests connected with the case.

This is the fifth murder in Yoknapatawpha County since the start of the year, and residents say they're worried about their otherwise peaceful community turning so violent.

"It's frightening," said Tom Banks, who owns Sweet Treats in the strip mall next to the Harte Agency. "You walk around thinking you're safe, and then these murders keep happening."

Banks said he became even more concerned after learning the latest victim was killed next door to his shop.

"I guess no place is safe anymore," Banks said. "Not even here."

Banks described Wyatt as a pleasant woman who always smiled, waved and chatted with him and others in the strip mall. He said she'll be missed.

Victim's neighbors report suspicions

Wyatt's neighbors also expressed sadness, saying she was friendly and helpful.

"She made sure my yard was mowed all last summer when I was recovering from surgery," said Sylvia Phelps, who lives next door to Wyatt's residence.

Phelps had no idea who would kill Wyatt but said she became suspicious of a strange vehicle parked in the victim's driveway several times during the past few weeks.

"It would drive by her house slowly, then back up and drive by again," Phelps said. "Sometimes, the car would just sit there. I only saw the driver once, but it was at night, and I couldn't get a good look."

Doug Wright, who lives two houses down from Wyatt's residence, also remembers the car. He said it was a white sedan but didn't know the make or model.

When asked about the vehicle, Jones declined to say whether detectives knew about it.

"We are following all leads," Jones said. "That's all I can tell you."
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Sep 17, 2012

Oxford Realtor found dead Sunday

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's detectives are investigating the suspected murder of an Oxford real-estate agent found dead at her office on Sunday.

Annette Wyatt
Annette Wyatt, 37, of 1044 Zilla Avent Road, Oxford, Mississippi, was discovered by a colleague on the floor of the Harte Agency, according to Elizabeth Jones, public information office for the Sheriff's Department.

The Harte Agency is located at 1923 University Avenue.

"We have no suspects at this time but are exploring all leads in this case," Jones said. "This is a top priority now for our investigators."

Jones declined to say how Wyatt had died but confirmed that investigators are treating the death as a homicide. She also said they're still working to determine a motive but that nothing appeared to have been missing from the office.

Several Harte Agency employees contacted by the Oxford Eagle on Sunday said Wyatt was killed by a nail gun.

Jones would neither confirm nor deny that.

"I still can't believe it's real," said Sofia Church, who described having found her colleague on the floor of the office's copy room. "There wasn't even that much blood. I thought she had collapsed from a heart attack or something."

Church said Wyatt had worked at the agency since it had opened and was one of its most productive employees.

"It's going to take us all awhile to come to grips with her death," Church said.

Owner Jeff Harte declined to comment for this story.

Wyatt, a graduate of the University of Mississippi, was active in Oxford's civic and charitable scenes. She was a frequent donor to the city's Art Fund and big a supporter of the local animal shelter, said Debbie Groth, director of the Downtown Oxford Association, which organizes numerous charity events throughout the year.

"I can't think of a better person," Groth said. "We all are deeply saddened. Annette truly will be missed by this community."

Neighbors of Wyatt’s expressed shock over the murder, calling it a senseless tragedy in an otherwise quiet community.

"It's such a sad, sad thing," said Doug Wright, who lives two houses down from Wyatt's residence. "Such a waste."

Wright said Wyatt wasn't married and has no children of which he’s aware.
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