Nov 16, 2019

Suspect arrested in socialite murder

Additional arrests possible?

Oxonians were shocked by the arrest of a popular local pharmacist in the October 30 murder of socialite Kelly Moran.

Lorraine Estrada, 39, was taken into custody yesterday at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department following an extended interview with the investigating detectives.

Yoknapatawpha County assistant district attorney Russell Moran discovered his wife's body when he returned home from work that Thursday evening in October. Initially, Kelly Moran was thought to have been the victim of a burglary gone wrong, but subsequent investigation cast doubt on that theory of the crime.

The case against Estrada includes both physical and testimonial evidence, according to Elizabeth Jones, information officer for the department. However, Jones declined to provide any details about what implicates Estrada in the death of her friend.

Jones also would not comment on Estrada's alleged motive but said investigators do believe they know what led to the killing.

DA's office "gratified"

At a brief press conference this morning announcing the arrest, assistant district attorney Calvin Dollarhide said, "This has been a difficult case not only for my colleague Russell Moran, who lost his beloved wife in such a brutal way, but for all of us in the Yoknapatawpha County law enforcement family. We are gratified that the sheriff's department has this cold-hearted killer in custody. Now the healing can begin for Kelly Moran's loved ones, friends and neighbors."

Dollarhide said Estrada will face charges for premeditated murder in the Moran killing and acknowledged that additional charges are possible.

Reached by phone, Russell Moran said he was thankful for the the support he's received from the community but declined to comment on the arrest.

Friends and acquaintances stunned

Pharmacist and murder suspect
Lorraine Estrada
Employees at the pharmacy where Estrada worked expressed surprise at her alleged involvement in a murder. "Lorraine is a wonderful, kind woman and an excellent pharmacist. She takes a personal interest in the well-being of all the pharmacy customers," said clerk Megan McDowell. "I can't believe she'd be involved in even hurting another person, much less killing someone."

By all accounts, Kelly Moran and her alleged killer, Lorraine Estrada, were close friends who socialized with each other regularly.

"They were here every week for karaoke," said a Rooster's Blues House employee who asked not to be named. "They were as thick as thieves, laughing and singing and having cocktails together week in and week out. I can't begin to guess what could've happened to make Lorraine do something like that."

"The sheriff's department usually does a good job, but this time I think they got it wrong," chimed in Rooster's patron Yvonne Boyd. "I saw Lorraine and Kelly here together all the time. There's no way Lorraine did what they say."

But not everyone believes in Estrada's innocence. "I know both of these women very well, and let me tell you something," said mutual friend Patricia Lee, "Lorraine's always been kind of a stick-in-the-mud, but Kelly was a rebel in her own way. I'm not at all surprised things finally came to a head between them."

"I am surprised that Lorraine's the one who came out on top though," Lee added. "Kelly must've made her really mad for that to happen."

Co-conspirators yet to be revealed?

A source close to the investigation told Crime Beat exclusively that detectives were also interrogating a second suspect at the same time as Estrada was being questioned before her arrest.

According to this source, it is possible that investigators are looking at one or more additional people who could have had some involvement in the murder of Kelly Moran.

When reached at the sheriff's department for comment, Jones said she would not comment on rumors but refused to confirm or deny the possibility of additional participants in the Moran murder.

A preliminary hearing for Lorraine Estrada is scheduled for November 25, 2019.
Read more

Nov 4, 2019

Do you know this person?

Neighbor's security camera captures potential witness in socialite slaying

The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department has released a video of what could be a witness in the Kelly Moran homicide investigation.

The video, captured by a private security camera on St. Andrews Circle the night Oxford socialite Kelly Moran was found dead, shows a person walking not far from the Moran residence near the time Kelly Moran is believe to have died.

If you have any information about the person in the video, you're asked to contact the sheriff's department at

Neighborhood watch

The vigilant neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he provided the video to the sheriff's department when he noticed it had been recorded the same night Mrs. Moran had died.

The neighbor lives adjacent to Lamar Park and said he had installed security cameras about 18 months ago after body parts were found in Lamar Park in 2017.

Those body parts were later connected to the murder of Oscar Knight, whose severed thumb had been found at the Rebel Inn prior to the discovery of the body parts in Lamar Park.

Two suspects were arrested in that case and are currently awaiting trial.

High society murder?

Kelly Moran died on October 30. Her husband, assistant district attorney Russell Moran, reportedly found her body when he arrived home from work and called 911.

An autopsy found that Mrs. Moran died from an opiate overdose. The sheriff's department confirmed that Moran had been taking prescribed opiate painkillers for several years prior to her death to treat chronic pain from a car accident.

However, the coroner's report listed the manner of death as undetermined, which implies that the medical examiner is not convinced the death resulted from an accidental or suicidal overdose.

According to a source inside the coroner's office, evidence observed at the scene and at autopsy indicate that Kelly Moran's likely death resulted from outside forces.

Sheriff's department mum

The sheriff's spokesperson, Elizabeth Jones, said the department is pursuing several avenues of investigation in the case but would not comment on whether they have any suspects.
"The detectives have several promising leads, including this security video. If anyone has any information, we ask they they get in touch with us."

Jones said persons coming forward with information may remain anonymous.
Read more

Nov 2, 2019

Correcting mistakes

In this edition: stylist sorrow… rose-colored regrets… and a Halloween treat for grown-ups

Greetings, peeps!

The View from the Behind the Chair is the only place you'll hear the things women only tell their hairdressers.
And in this chair?
In the first chair, a woman who deeply regrets going to one of the lesser salons makes up for her bad decision by letting slip that we can expect to see a glorious end-of-season sale at Talon Notch. Ladies, flex those ankles — it's nearly time to go shoe shopping!

And in this chair?
In the second chair, someone recently interviewed by the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department wonders whether she painted a rosier picture of her late gal pal than appropriate. As I told her, just because you shouldn't speak ill of your hair stylist doesn't mean you shouldn't fill in the gaps when talking to law enforcement. We are, after all, only human, and sometimes our bad behavior should serve as a warning to others. (Did I mention the woman who went to another hairdresser?)

And in this chair?
And in the third chair, the warm story of the Halloween angel. Apparently someone bringing their children around this past Halloween distributed splits of champagne to those handing out candy. (Only when the person was of legal drinking age, of course.) After learning where my client lived, I called a real estate agent and told her she had eleven months to find me a home in that neighborhood.

I'm just hearing, and I'm just saying.
Read more

Oct 31, 2019

Are investigators stumped already?

The pressure is on as the sheriff's department seeks leads in the slaying of ADA's wife

Magnifying glass over a fingerprint

As the sun sets on the first full day of the investigation into the shocking murder of Oxford socialite Kelly Moran, the sheriff's department remains mum about what leads they're pursuing to capture her killer.

Investigators have spoken to residents throughout the tony enclave where Moran lived and died, while detectives have reportedly been having heart-to-hearts with members of Moran's inner circle.

But has all of that talking generated any leads? The sheriff's department won't say.

"It's still early in the investigation," said sheriff's Public Information Officer Elizabeth Jones. "We're not going to discuss developments while the inquiry is ongoing."

Citizen group offers reward

Others in the community were more willing to speak out.

"What happened to Kelly Moran is an outrage," said Ben Morgan, president of Concerned Oxford Parents (COP). "A woman killed in her own home? We cannot and we will not stand by and allow this kind of violence to happen in our town."

Morgan said COP will offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Kelly Moran.

"The people of Yoknapatawpha County expect—no, they demand to be safe in their own homes, and not to be at risk from murderous home invaders terrorizing our neighborhoods."

DA's office declines to weigh in

A spokesperson for the District Attorney expressed gratitude to Morgan and COP for their efforts to bring evidence to light in the case.

However, citing the active investigation, they refused to comment on whether they believe Kelly Moran's death is related to any of the cases her husband, Russell Moran, has prosecuted on behalf of the people of Yoknapatawpha County.

Not the Halloween scare anyone had in mind

With the authorities keeping what they know or don't know to themselves, Oxonians are finding this Halloween more frightening than they ever wanted as they remain on high alert for a real-life boogeyman among the costume-clad kids and partygoers on the streets of Yoknapatawpha County tonight.

If you have any information about the events surrounding Kelly Moran's death, you are asked to contact the sheriff's department or Yoknapatawpha Crime Stoppers. You are not required to give your name.

Read more

Truth and consequences

The Face in the Mirror has all the dish!

In this edition: rebounding with a vengeance… woe and worry… and a heads-up for your Halloween hijinks

Greetings, peeps!

The View from the Behind the Chair is the only place you'll hear the things women only tell their hairdressers.

And in this chair?
In the first chair, a shopgirl with luscious locks tells me a recently dumped doyenne is putting the "vamp" in revamping her wardrobe. When her ex sees her new look, he may have second thoughts about that nubile naif who turned his head, but all the signs say it's too late for that lothario. Stay on your toes, boys. There's a new femme fatale in town, and she's on the prowl for fresh prey.

And in this chair?
In the second chair, one of the ladies who lunch said she and her gal pals are reeling from the sudden loss of one of their own last night. The late lady in question apparently had her share of frenemies and maybe a secret or two that might shock Oxonians, including her high-powered hubby, who could lose more than just face if the hush-hush info comes to light. With the hunt for the killer in full swing, there are more than a few nervous Nellies wondering if and when detectives might show up on their doorsteps.

And in this chair?
And in the third chair, a well-coiffed woman in the know about all things law enforcement on campus and off confided that officers will be out in force tonight with ticket books and handcuffs at the ready to protect trick-or-treaters young and old from over-indulgers. So if you're out and about tonight, the smart money says designate a driver or call Uber a taxi

I'm just hearing, and I'm just saying.
Read more

Socialite found dead

Foul play suspected

Smiling blonde woman in fancy dress
Halloween got off to a grisly start when Kelly Moran, 40, was found dead in her Muirfield Drive home last night.

Her body was discovered by her husband, Russell Moran, when he arrived home from the Yoknapatawpha County District Attorney's Office where he is employed.

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's spokeswoman Elizabeth Jones said Mrs. Moran's death appears to be a homicide, but declined to say exactly how she died. An autopsy will be performed today.

Crime scene investigators are still processing the scene.

No known enemies

Kelly Moran, originally of Miami, Florida, was a housewife and a regular in the Oxford social scene.

Jones said the sheriff's department is not aware of any threats against Mrs. Moran and has not logged any prior incidents at the Moran residence.

Neighbors suspect burglar may be responsible

"This kind of thing just doesn't happen here," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. "It must have been some bad element from somewhere else, one of those home invasions you're always hearing about on the news."

Jones confirmed that evidence of forced entry was observed but would not comment on neighborhood speculation that the death resulted from a break-in gone wrong.

According to sheriff's department records, the last reported burglary in the upscale Country Club subdivision was in 2016.

Retaliation against the husband?

Russell Moran has worked as a prosecutor since 2009 and has won convictions of numerous felony and misdemeanor defendants.

When asked if someone could have been seeking revenge against Mr. Moran, Jones said, "It would be irresponsible to speculate this early in the investigation."

"We have no suspects at this time," Jones continued. "We are investigating every possibility."

Calls to Russell Moran seeking comment have not been returned.

Check back for updates on this developing story.
Read more

Jul 26, 2019

Former suspect talks about killer's arrest

Rick Hughes
Hughes talks only to the OWP
about the arrest of his girlfriend's killer

Hughes speaks out on Drum murder arrest

Exclusive interview

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's officials announced Friday morning that former Oxford Eagle pressman David Ledford has been arrested for the murder of Eagle managing editor Monica Drum.

Eagle city reporter Rick Hughes had been under a cloud of suspicion until Ledford's arrest and even went into hiding for weeks after the murder, reaching out to the public through the Planet to proclaim his innocence.

After the announcement of the arrest, we contacted Rick Hughes, and he agreed to talk to us.

Q = Kemper Jones

A = Rick Hughes

Q: I imagine you're relieved that Monica's killer has been arrested.

A: I am. I knew it had to be just a matter of time.

Q: Did you have faith in the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Department, that they were going to find the killer?

A: I knew that they would. I mean, I hoped that they would. They did sort of finger me and really put the clamps down on me at the beginning. I mean, they really thought that I had done it.

Q: Reports said that you didn't have a "good" alibi. What was your alibi for that night, Rick?

A: OK. I was dead drunk. I've been drinking a lot lately, and I don't know why. But I've applied to Charter Lakeside Counseling in Memphis for help, and I'm going to get it.

Q: Where were you that night? Were you alone?

A: I was at home, I just started getting depressed and broke out a bottle of Absolut and drank it. Then I went to the liquor store to get more and then back home. I had bruises on my hands. I think I crashed into my kitchen table or something. But that's all, and the police knew that, I think. I told them, but there was no way to prove that I had been home alone all night.

Q: Most of the people in Oxford were convinced that you didn't drink alcohol, so they found your alibi sort of flimsy.

A: Well, I didn't use to. I used to be an athlete, and I cared about my body. But I'm human like everyone else, and I found, slowly at first and then with more speed, that alcohol made me feel better about myself and about my relationship with Monica and so on. So I just started drinking more and more, mostly at home. At bars, I'd tell people I was drinking a Coke when it was whiskey. It was easy to fool people.

Q: Do you think you're an alcoholic?

A: I don't know if this is just a phase I'm going through, but I don't like it, and I'm going to drop it. I wish I could have dropped it sooner.

Q: Why didn't you go to someone about all of this?

A: Who would understand? Everyone knew how crazy Monica had made me. They wouldn't listen to me. But a bottle doesn't talk back. That sounds corny, but it's true. That was where I was at that point in my life. But I can't change the past, even if I do have a few regrets.

Q: Do you regret that you were drunk the night Monica was killed? Do you wish you could have been there to save her?

A: Sure, I do. I've thought about that a lot since she died, but what's done is done. I have to move on. One way or another, I can't dwell on it.

Q: Is that why you went into hiding after she was killed?

A: I wasn't hiding. I didn't know who had killed her, and I was concerned for my own safety.

Q: At that time, who did you think had killed her? Who would also want you dead?

A: I didn't know. That's why I had to take precautions.

Q: What do you think about the latest rumors? About the blackmail and Edward Hagen?

A: That really shocks me, because I thought I knew Monica fairly well, but I never thought that she would blackmail someone with photographs of any kind. Nothing like that ever crossed my mind when I thought about her. She never exhibited anything like that to me, but she was tough, so I guess it's not inconceivable. And I didn't even think that she really knew Edward Hagen. I guess she knew everybody, though.

Q: Why do you think she wanted $10,000?

A: That I don't know. She always had enough money to get by. I guess it was some sort of retirement fund.

Q: Did you ever get the impression that she was involved in something like this?

A: Again, I have to answer no. People hide things from others, though. That's a fact.

Q: What about Edward Hagen? What do you think will happen?

A: I don't know. He hasn't had a spotless record, but he's been a pretty good representative of our interests. It's a shame that he has to give all of that up because of one gambling indiscretion.

Q: Did you know this David Ledford who's been arrested for Monica's murder?

A: Not really. I knew who he was, and Monica mentioned him a few times.

Q: She talked about him?

A: Yeah, she thought he was really milking the workman's comp for everything he could get. I don't really know the situation. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't. I don't know him well enough to say.

Q: Is that why he killed her?

A: I don't know. There's no good reason for killing Monica that will make it all make sense, but if he is the one who did it, I guess that could've been his motive. I have no way of knowing.

Q: Do you think he did it alone? Maybe someone paid him to do it.

A: I have no idea.

Q: What are your plans now?

A: Well, Craig Pegues has asked me to serve as acting managing editor of the Eagle, and I agreed. I think he'll probably make me the permanent editor in the next few months.

Q: Congratulations.

A: Thanks. It's a real milestone in my career, and I'm proud of the achievement.

Q: Even with the unfortunate circumstances that got you the job?

A: That was terrible, of course, but it doesn't mean I'm not the best man for the job.

Read more

Jul 19, 2019

Sheriff takes down Rep. Edward Hagen

Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

Rep. Hagen in happier times
It seems the long-standing rumors of high-stakes poker games held at The Rebel Yell for the elite who can afford it are true. The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department arrested Big Jack Rowan and Congressman Edward Hagen Sunday, Big Jack for hosting the games and Hagen for playing in them. Sources who were there tell us that Sheriff Taylor Sheldon himself was there to slap the cuffs on Hagen personally.

Sheriff's spokesperson Elizabeth Jones said the evidence against Hagen and Big Jack was found during an unrelated investigation. She wouldn't say what that investigation is, but we've been told it's the Monica Drum murder investigation. What did Monica Drum have to do with illegal poker games in the back rooms of a seedy bar? We'd all like to know, but for now, no one's talking.

The Rebel Yell is notorious throughout Yoknapatawpha County as a place where folks can go to sin as little or as much as they want to. The YCSD has raided the business numerous times over the last 10 years, but have never been able to make any significant charges stick.

These arrests raise a lot of questions like what was Edward Hagen thinking? As a former county prosecutor and district attorney in north Mississippi, he can't credibly claim ignorance of the law as a defense. Will the voters forgive him this "indiscretion" or is his political career over?

But maybe the biggest question of all is whether Hagen or Rowan or both were involved in Monica Drum's murder, and if so, how? And why?

It's obvious the sheriff's department knows more than they're telling right now, but once they do, this whole situation could get a lot uglier.
Read more

Jul 16, 2019

An Open Letter to the Oxford Public from Rick Hughes

Rick Hughes
Hughes denies involvement in
girlfriend's murder
Dear Friends and Supporters:

Many of you have wondered why I have not responded publicly to the allegations that I may have been involved to some extent in the murder of Monica Drum. There is more to this story than meets the eye, and most of it is not easy for me to talk about.

Melvin Roberts's recent confession adds a new chapter to the investigation, but I am convinced that the public at large needs to hear my side of the story. Therefore, I now take this opportunity to answer such charges and rumors with the most potent weapon that I have at my disposal – the truth.

First, it is true that Monica Drum and I had a romantic relationship. This relationship lasted for two years, on and off. Like any other couple, we did fight, but we were not enemies. We did raise our voices, like any other couple, but we did not raise our fists.

Several people in Oxford, especially some people that I have worked with in the past, have implied that I am a "violent" person. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those that know me well know that I am not violent and am not prone to anger. In fact, it takes quite a bit to make me angry.

People who lie and slander my name around Oxford certainly make me angry, but I am not going to go out and kill them. These people seem to believe that they are defending Monica Drum's honor by slandering my name, but if Monica herself were still alive, she would be the first to defend me. I know that.

Second, many people have asked why I have not submitted to a witness interview conducted by the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department, as have many others connected with this case. The short answer is that I didn't feel I had to.

Each citizen in our country has certain rights that cannot be infringed upon. One of the most basic is that whether an individual has been charged and arrested in connection with a crime or not, he or she does not have to answer any questions.

I will cooperate fully with Sheriff Taylor Sheldon and other members of the sheriff's department in regard to their most basic inquiries, but I do not feel that the private nature of my relationship with Monica Drum is anyone else's business but mine and Ms. Drum's. I have to believe that any other rational person would feel the same.

There is no law that I know of on the state or federal books that requires a person to answer any question posed to him by law enforcement regarding a romantic relationship. It simply doesn't make sense to me, and I feel as though it would benefit no one if I aired such private business in public. It would certainly not benefit Monica Drum, who is no longer with us to give her side of the story.

Third, many people have wondered why I have been "hiding out" since the discovery of Monica Drum's murder. I will now say that my actions were in the best interests of my own personal security. After all, if someone could murder one of my co-workers so effortlessly, could they not get to me just as easily?

I think they could, and I still do, and that is why I retreated from the public eye and kept a "low profile" as some said. I see nothing wrong with this at all. I was not willing to let myself become a human target for some disgruntled and obviously disturbed person who would be willing to kill me if he or she could.

If some people in Oxford do not understand my line of thinking in regard to this point, then I suppose that I can do little to convince them of my intentions. I only hope that those people are never in such a situation and have to make such a hard choice.

In closing, let me say that I appreciate all of the messages of support that I have received in the last two weeks. It heartens me to realize that I have many good friends in Oxford who have my welfare and best intentions in mind.

To those who still refuse to believe that I am innocent of any involvement in Monica Drum's murder, then I can only say to you that time will prove me innocent. The confession of Melvin Roberts should put many doubts to rest. If it does not, then his trial and probable conviction will.

Again, a thank-you to my supporters and friends in the Oxford and Yoknapatawpha community.


Rick Hughes
Read more

Jul 15, 2019

Store Owner Confesses to Editor's Shooting

Did karma finally get the Eagle's firebrand editor?

Melvin Roberts arrested
The YCSD released this mug shot of Melvin Roberts

Those of us who travel into Oxford and back have often stopped at Melvin's Nite Owl, the monolith of a convenience store located at the intersection of Highway 30 and North Lamar Avenue, at the north gateway into the town.

Owned by Melvin "Coach" Roberts for almost thirty years, the store grew from a small operation into a major competitor to Kroger and other grocery stores with its constant flow of traffic.

Much of that changed after 2014, when Roberts was falsely accused of rape by a sixteen-year-old baby-sitter. He was brought to trial and acquitted, but the publicity surrounding the case literally destroyed his store.

Now the place is but a hulking shell of its former glory, and an employee that we contacted said that she expected the place to close any day. On the day that we called, around twelve noon, she reported that she'd had three paying customers since 7:00 a.m. that morning.

Roberts, it seems, has a knack for getting himself into the papers, and it's always something that had to do with bad news. It now seems that he turned himself in to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department yesterday evening and confessed to the murder of Monica Drum, the managing editor of the Oxford Eagle.

Drum was shot to death in her office early last Sunday morning.

Roberts cited a series of negative articles Monica Drum wrote at the time of his arrest and trial as his primary motive for the slaying, claiming that the articles severely damaged his reputation and hurt his business to the point of forcing him to put the once-bustling store on the market. But no one has expressed interest so far, according to Roberts, who said he's facing bankruptcy if a buyer can't be found.

Roberts is being held without bond at the Yoknapatawpha County Detention Center on East Jackson Avenue, pending further investigation. Sheriff's Department spokesperson Elizabeth Jones says that "the investigation at this time is centered around Mr. Roberts, due to his confession, but we need to collect a lot more evidence before we start talking about a conviction. With Mr. Roberts's past troubles in regard to the legal process, we must proceed very carefully with what he has told us and how we act on it."

Despite the confession, detectives apparently still want to talk to Rick Hughes, the paper's city reporter who had a tumultuous relationship with Drum, so maybe they're not confident that Roberts is their man.

Hughes spoke to the Planet from an undisclosed location. "I can't believe that they might think I would kill someone, especially Monica. At one point, I was in love with her. I would never hurt her. She got on my nerves, sure. But that happens with everyone. I'm not going to be anyone's scapegoat. I know that."

Hughes added that, in light of this confession by Roberts, he expects the persecution and gossip about him and his relationship with Drum to stop.

Hughes has retained prominent Oxford defense attorney Mark McGhee, who vowed when we talked to him that "this is not over. The sheriff's department must make a statement clearing my client. Their insinuations that he could have had any involvement in the brutal murder of someone he cared about borders on slander. We will be exploring our options for redress if Mr. Hughes is not immediately exonerated publicly the same way he was erroneously implicated."

Sheriff's Department officials did not return phone calls requesting comments on Roberts's arrest and on Hughes and McGhee's statements.

Read more

When the News-Makers Become the News

Monica Drum
Monica Drum,
the late managing editor of the Oxford Eagle

Oxford newspaper gets embroiled in its own story

What happens when the news-makers become the news? What happens when those who write the stories suddenly turn into the story itself?

Such a quandary is developing in Oxford right now, where Rick Hughes, a city reporter for town newspaper The Oxford Eagle, is reportedly being sought for questioning in the murder of Monica Drum, the paper's managing editor.

Drum was found shot in her office on Sunday morning around 3:15 a.m. by security guard Ernie Parrish and YCSD officer A. L. Quinlan. Parrish heard gunshots while patrolling the press area in the back of the building on regular rounds and immediately called police, who arrived on the scene within minutes.

Drum was shot multiple times at close range, and some speculate that she probably knew her attacker.

Sheriff's department officials say that Hughes is a person of interest in the investigation at this time due to his long-standing relationship with Drum. Sources tell the Planet that Drum and Hughes had a vicious argument just 12 hours before her death.

Hughes, who spoke to the Planet from an undisclosed location, insists that he is innocent and says that even though he and Drum had what he terms as an "up and down" relationship, they had recently broken up for good and decided to remain just friends. He also claims that he has recently been binge drinking and blacking out with no recall of the evening before.

Some co-workers find the latter statement uncharacteristic. They claim Hughes is well-known for not partaking of alcohol in a town where drinking seems to be a preoccupation with much of the population, no matter the age.

But close colleagues and friends of Hughes tell quite a different story, alleging that the relationship between Drum and Hughes was punctuated by frequent arguing and fighting, and that Hughes had made some veiled threats in the last few weeks. Some say that their relationship had deteriorated to the point where either he or Drum would have to leave the paper.

Co-workers of Hughes also report that he claimed that he was "beginning to hate her," and that he would like to see her gone.

Hughes claims that such statements were taken out of context and that any arguments that he and Drum had in the office probably pertained to their work at the paper, and not their personal situation. Hughes says they often disagreed on both major and minor points concerning the paper's coverage of city news, especially pertaining to the recent election.

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department officials take a different stance on Hughes's statements. An official inside the department says that based on testimony from various witnesses in regard to the relationship, Hughes and Drum most certainly took their personal lives into the office. Several examples bear this point out.

Hughes's sudden two-week vacation this summer was a direct result, witnesses claim, of Drum's demand that he leave her alone for a while, and she promptly sent him on a paid vacation to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, ostensibly to write an in-depth article on the ongoing recovery from the BP oil spill and the effect on the present-day economy, an article that never appeared.

In addition, a sheriff's official said, co-workers reported that on more than one occasion, Hughes and Drum were heard to argue loudly from inside her office.

One can only wonder how the newspaper, which was judged as mediocre for years and called an embarrassment by the very citizens it served, turned things around in a dramatic fashion to become such a respected journal in only three short years under the teamwork of Hughes and Drum, when for the entire time, a personal crisis was swirling around them and weaving its way in and out of the office and back home to closed doors.
Read more

Apr 23, 2019

How did Wendell Martinson die?

What is the Sheriff's Department hiding?

The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department has yet to tell us how Pastor Wendell Martinson was murdered. People who've seen the room where Martinson was killed say it was a bloody mess, but the ones who talked to us hadn't seen Martinson's body so they didn't know what kind of injuries he had.

Why won't the YCSD tell us what happened? Are they protecting someone?

Most Oxonians are familiar with the location of the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit church, and nobody just happens to be passing by that spot. If you're at that church, you meant to go there.

So why did the killer go there? Was it to see Martinson? Was the killer there for something else and just happened to run into Martinson? And what reason would anyone have for being there in the middle of the night?

Church members tell us there's nothing of value at the church, so they don't think anyone would break in for a burglary. But the same church members also don't think anyone would want to kill Martinson, so what's going on?

And speaking of burglary, did someone break into the church that day or was it already unlocked? Was this a burglary gone wrong? Was it premeditated?

Maybe we'd start getting some answers to all of these questions if the YCSD would start sharing some of what they know.

A lot of people in this community are very upset about Martinson's murder. They'd like to help find the killer, if they can, but they don't know what to do.

Sheriff Sheldon, why won't your department release some information about the case and accept the public's help? What are you hiding?
Read more

Mar 13, 2019

Victor Jennings death ruled a homicide


The late, not-so-lamented Victor Jennings
Yesterday, the YCSD finally acknowledged what we suspected all along. Victor Jennings was murdered. The Sheriff's PIO Elizabeth Jones made the announcement yesterday in a late afternoon, low-key press conference.

Jones said the coroner found the cause of death was a single stab wound, but wouldn't give any more details about the fatal injury or the murder weapon. Sounds like the YCSD still has a few cards they're waiting to play on this one.

Of course, Victor Jennings was on house arrest, awaiting trial for extorting Michael and Samantha Hawke. And as we all know, the fabulous duo have been in our little burg for the last couple of weeks, hitting the hot spots, making appearances at the Oxford Film Festival, and supposedly scouting locations for an upcoming movie.

What everyone is wondering and no one in the know is talking about is what exactly Victor Jennings was blackmailing them about. Smart money is on those rumors that have been dogging Michael Hawke his whole career, but it could be anything. Nobody keeps secrets better than A-list celebs.

But it's no secret that the Hawkes were in town before Jennings was killed. Could that be why the YCSD is being so tight-lipped about this investigation?

Not that there aren't plenty of other people who had it in for Jennings from what we hear. There have been some whispers sexual assault allegations against him, but Yoknapatawpha County officials won't say whether they're investigating anything like that. Jennings' lawyer Tom Eldon has been quick to say to anyone who'd listen that he's "certain that his client would have been found innocent of any and all charges."

It sounds like a lot of suspects, but what evidence does the YCSD have? We hope it's more than they've said, or they may never catch the killer. Good luck, detectives.
Read more

Mar 11, 2019

Hollywood comes to Oxford

Will local businesses profit?

Samantha & Michael Hawke
walk the red carpet at the  Oxford Film Festival
Lots of Oxonians have reported seeing Hollywood movie stars Michael and Samantha Hawke in town in recent days. The celebrity couple known as "Sammich" are said to be in town scouting Oxford as a possible location for Michael Hawke's upcoming film, My Segregation.

According to director Wes Thomas, the film is hoping for a 2020 release date and is tentatively scheduled to begin filming in May.

"It's going to be a period piece set in the '50s," explained Thomas. "Luckily, John Grisham has offered us the use of his home while we look around."

As with most film productions, local businesses, including hotels and storage facilities, will profit from the movie's filming. Oxford Tourism marketing director, Tammy Bradman estimates a big budget film like My Segregation could inject as much as $5 million into the city economy.

Yoknapatawpha County has previously been part of a number of film productions including Leo with Joseph Fiennes, Elisabeth Shue and Sam Shepard, the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney, Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune with Glenn Close and Julianne Moore, The People vs. Larry Flynt with Woody Harrelson and Edward Norton, and The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag also with Moore and Penelope Ann Miller.

Eagle-eyed residents have spotted the Hawkes at a number of potential filming locations as well as local eateries. A worker at Holli's Sweet Tooth confirmed that movie star duo stopped by the restaurant and posed for a photograph with the employees.

"They were both super nice and they stayed for a real long time," said Sweet Tooth employee Amy Casey. "Samantha was especially mellow. She told me she was in love with our chocolate ice cream."

The Hawkes will reportedly be in town through the Oxford Film Festival, February 21-24, 2013.

Hawke's contract for My Segregation, a movie based on the diary of a prison guard in Parchman, Mississippi, could make him the highest paid actor in history. His package is said to include a generous percentage of the movie's ticket sales, as well as DVD and action-figure profits, and foreign language rights. And if Hawke agrees to star in the film's two planned sequels, his earnings will multiply.

If Oxford's experience with past films is repeated, local businesses will stand to profit as well.
Read more

Oxford Weekly Planet Copyright © 2012-2022 | Template design by O Pregador | Powered by Blogger Templates