Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Biloxi Confidential

The Investigation Founders

On September 22, the same day that the Sherry children toured their parents' home, a yellow Ford Fairmont fitting the description of the alleged getaway car was spotted in an apartment building's parking lot less than half a mile from the Sherrys' home.

Residents of the building said the car had been there for more than a week, which would have put it in the time frame of the killings. Investigators swarmed over the vehicle, sweeping it for clues. The license plate matched the numbers of those stolen from a 1975 Oldsmobile three years earlier, and a decal swiped from another vehicle and dated September 1988 was glued onto the stolen plate. It was obvious the Ford had been prepped with some thoroughness as a getaway car.

But, despite the extensive sweep and the discovery of a set of fingerprints, the investigation of the Ford went nowhere. The fingerprints, along with hairs and fibers swept up from the inside of the vehicle, were stored in a locker at the Biloxi Police Department. They were never shipped off to the FBI, even though Lynne had been assured that they were. Then the Ford was returned to its owner — the dealership from which it had been stolen — and was allowed to be resold. Someone seemed to be intent on taking it out of the purview of the investigation and only later on would it be factored in again.

Investigators began following leads that appeared to suggest a drug ring connection. The trail led to Diamond Betsy, serving time for cocaine distribution, despite Vince's efforts to defend her. Her supplier was alleged to be in Kentucky which also happened to be Vince's home state where he maintained some business interests. But, like all the other active leads, this loose and apparently coincidental connection also went nowhere.

It also came out around this time that Margaret had, indeed, been cooperating with the FBI, despite their earlier denials. The discovery of this fact was purely accidental. Broussard had gone to the local FBI office to meet with an agent he wanted to question and inadvertently spotted a set of plans for the redevelopment of a run-down waterfront section of Biloxi on a nearby desk. The plans called for replacing the ramshackle buildings, rotting boat docks, and other urban decay with a new marina, shopping center, restaurants, and other tourist amenities in a section of eastern Biloxi known as Point Cadet. Broussard concluded that there would be no reason for the FBI to have a copy of these plans unless there was an investigation of city government underway. Just as Margaret had alleged.

And solidly behind the redevelopment plan was Blessey. Perhaps his intentions were honorable in wanting to revitalize a dilapidated section of his city but, to Margaret, the project had appeared to be a boondoggle. She had accused Blessey and other city officials of mismanaging redevelopment funds necessary to finance the project. Even though she had no longer been an elected official with a vote and a voice in city government, she had remained influential. She had blocked an earlier bond issue called for by Blessey and had seemed poised to obstruct this project, as well. With her dead, opposition to the project appeared to vanish.

Still, however, there was no hard evidence to link Blessey to the murders, despite the mounting circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction.

By this time, Broussard was investigating the Sherry murders on his own, working closely with Lynne who was determined, at any cost to her and despite the strain it put on her family life, to find the killers. It took another discovery by Broussard to finally direct the investigation properly.

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