Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Biloxi Confidential

The Next Steps

Soon after Armistead returned from his meeting with Fabian at Angola, he and Lynne reported their findings to Lieutenant Mike Meaut of the Biloxi Police Department. By this time, Meaut was the only one in the department still working on the case, which had grown cold after nearly two years. After that, Lynne took her findings to District Attorney Joe Meadows who promised to ask the U.S. Attorney to help present the case.

Meanwhile, Armistead took two other. men, Harrison County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Price and County attorney Bobby Payne back to Angola with him to interview Fabian further. Fabian basically repeated the same information he had given Armistead earlier. With the appropriate authorities now officially involved, Armistead advised Lynne to lay back and let them handle the matter.

Things still moved slowly, though, and Lynne was getting impatient. The investigation had stalled while the mayor's race was underway, and the suspicions about Halat's possible involvement in the Sherry murders were not publicized. Halat squeaked to a narrow victory in the Democratic primary, then trounced his opponent in the general election. Shortly after Halat's swearing-in, though, the Sherry murder investigation began picking up some steam.

County Attorney Payne made another trip back to Angola, this time with Captain Randy Cook of the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, who had been recently assigned to take over the Sherry murder investigation. Their meeting with Fabian yielded basically the same information he had related on two other occasions but this time there was a little twist to the story. Instead of Halat merely acquiescing to Vince's murder, he actually pushed for it, and for Margaret to be taken out with her husband, possibly to pave the way for Halat's own political ambition to become mayor of Biloxi. This revelation gave investigators an even more plausible motive for both murders.

Fabian had also told Payne and Cook about LaRa Sharpe's role in carrying out Nix's scams, something he couldn't have known unless he was privy to that information. LaRa was granted immunity, then questioned at length by Cook and other investigators, during which time she denied any knowledge of the Sherry murders. She maintained that she had left the Halat & Sherry law office in late 1985. However, she turned over records of phone calls between her and Angola — 2,666 of them — that extended well into 1986. Some of those calls were three-ways between her, Angola, and John Ransom. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, she was in the game up to her neck.

By the summer of 1989, the Harrison County Sheriff's Office was still guarding the secret of Fabian's complicity in the investigation and keeping it out of the hands of the Biloxi Police Department. This was done to keep them from tipping off Halat who had been just sworn in as mayor and to whom they now owed their jobs. Then, later in July of that year, Cook received word from authorities in Georgia that Ransom and another accomplice had been arrested on a murder charge. The weapon used in this murder was similar to the one used on the Sherrys.

With Ransom safely in custody, Cook ordered a search of his house. What was found were silencers, a roll of foam of the type normally used in silencers, an address book with LaRa's phone number in it, and a phony stock certificate from a scam Ransom and Nix concocted drawn up by the Halat & Sherry firm. A connection between Ransom and the other suspects in the murder-for-hire plot appeared to be conclusively established. The pieces were finally being fitted into place.

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