Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Biloxi Confidential

A Break in the Case

For nearly two years after the Sherry murders, the investigation still appeared to be heading nowhere. Despite several promising leads, not the least of which was the Angola connection to the Halat & Sherry law firm, nothing could be conclusively pinned on anyone. Lynne Sposito still refused to give up, though, though her obsession with solving the mystery continued to take its toll on her life and her relations with her family. In the meantime, Gerald Blessey declined the opportunity to run for a third term as mayor. In the spring 1989 election, Pete Halat was one of the candidates for the city's top office.

Nix continued to run his lonely hearts scam and its profitability kept growing. Although no exact set of figures could be determined, his earnings were estimated to have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With each check deposited in his bank accounts, his dream of buying his freedom seemed to get closer to reality. And, despite significant instances of dissension within his intricate network of collaborators, his operations went on largely unimpeded. Gay men being bilked out of their money were reluctant to embarrass themselves by going to authorities if they suspected the fraud, and did not elicit much sympathy from those who were in on or aware of the scam.

However, as often happens whenever there is big money to be had, there are jealousies and copycat attempts by others to duplicate the success of those who are successful. Nix's successes began to spawn ambitions among those with whom he was working. One of those threatening to break away and start running his own scams was another Dixie Mafia heavyweight now doing hard time at Angola named Bobby Joe Faubion (who later shortened his surname to Fabian).

Bobby Joe Fabian
Bobby Joe Fabian

Years earlier, while still a free man, Fabian had been cornered in a ditch off a highway by Rex Armistead after a hard chase. Fabian, knowing he was caught, threw his gun down and thrust his hands in the air, offering to surrender peacefully. Armistead, instead of simply slapping the cuffs on him right away, ordered Fabian to pick up his gun, all the while pointing his own gun at the fugitive. The implication was that, if Fabian went for his gun, Armistead could shoot him and claim self-defense. Only the presence of other witnesses — a TV news crew filming nearby — may have prevented this.

Fabian landed in Angola for the kidnapping and murder of a state trooper. There he buddied up with his fellow Dixie Mafia compadre, Kirksey Nix. Among other things, the two of them worked together on the lonely hearts scams. Then there was an argument, most likely over money, and Fabian threatened to start running his own con game. But, even more than that, Fabian, serving a long sentence, was looking for an out. That's when he decided to sing.

Armistead drove alone to Angola and, though Fabian was initially reluctant to talk to the man responsible for putting him there, he had no choice but to play. When Lynne got the call from Armistead sometime in April 1989, she finally had the answers she had been so doggedly pursuing.

Two years earlier a large chunk of the money Nix had been laundering through the Halat & Sherry firm turned up missing. About $500,000 worth, by Fabian's account, though later sources put the amount closer to $200,000. A meeting was held at Angola between Nix and Halat and several other inmates, among them was Bobby Joe Fabian. When Nix asked Halat about the missing money, Halat denied any responsibility and blamed it on Vince Sherry. A hit was then ordered on Vince, and a career killer named John Ransom was contracted to do the dirty work.

Fabian also told Armistead that he didn't believe Vince took the money and, instead, blamed Halat. And possibly LaRa, as well. The day after meeting with Armistead, Fabian called Lynne collect and repeated basically the same information about the contract hit on Vince. That was as much as Fabian could offer, but it was plenty. Enough to move the investigation forward in a specific direction.

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