Jefferson Davis Co. Sheriff, DA, family respond to unsolved murders

Jefferson Davis Co. Sheriff, DA, family respond to unsolved murders

JEFFERSON DAVIS COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - More than a year after a rash of unsolved murders in Jefferson Davis County, questions still loom about who is responsible. Hearts are still broken with no justice for the five lives lost within three months.

Law enforcement is assuring the community that the work to solve the murders has not ceased.

Meanwhile, some family members are growing impatient with the time it’s taking to receive closure.

With a population of just over 11,000, it’s a small county with big questions still unanswered.

“We’re hurting, mourning and praying for justice, but it looks as if justice will never get served,” said Rhonda Poole, who is the niece of Edna Brister, one of the victims.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, Stephen Abram, Patrick Hartzog, Reginald Hartzog, Brister and Ashley Oatis were murdered in Jefferson Davis County.

Their families have been left to live without closure.

“Who would go in and murder a 60-something-year old lady?” Poole is still asking a year later.

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff Ron Strickland said he feels the frustration and is continuously working to answer these questions.

“The public might not hear from us all the details going on with the case, but we are getting leads,” Strickland said.

Strickland said investigators must wait on crime lab results and the lack of people speaking out can hinder them from cracking the case.

“A lot of agencies deal with this, people will know something and be scared to come say something,” Strickland said. “It would be kept confidential if someone does come forward and just tell us what they do know about these cases.”

We reached out to District Attorney Hal Kittrell to ask his views on why it’s taken so long to prosecute suspects in these homicides.

He responded in part:

“I understand the frustration of the victims’ families and community in these matters not being solved and the perpetrators being brought to justice. I also share in that frustration. However, all efforts are being undertaken to complete the files and pursue charges against the persons responsible for these deaths.”
District Attorney Hal Kittrell

“Hurt, not only our family but the other four families as well,” Poole said.

Lingering questions loom over the county, and family members say it hasn’t gotten any easier with time.

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