Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Biloxi Confidential

Post-Aftermath: Mr. Mike Sings

Facing, while in one's 60s, the prospect of a lifetime in prison can have a sobering effect on even the toughest of men. In the words of former U.S. Attorney George Phillips, interviewed many years later by Court TV, "When you slam that jailhouse door on somebody, I don't care how mean and tough and big and bad they are, that sound sometimes changes a fella's mind."

In the case of Mike Gillich, it had precisely that effect. Facing possibly the rest of his life in jail, by the mid-1990s the once-formidable Dixie Don was ready to sing the tune many had been waiting nearly a decade to hear. He was ready to finger the murderer, in exchange for a clemency deal, of course.

When, during interviews by the FBI, he finally revealed who pulled the trigger on the Sherrys, the revelation was a shocker. It turned out to be someone who had never, in all that time, been suspected or even publicly linked to any part of the conspiracy. The actual killer was a shadowy Dixie Mafia hitman who had flown completely under investigators' radar for nine years; an ex-con and part-time carnival worker from Texas named Thomas Leslie Holcomb. The driver of the getaway car, Gillich said, was an ex-cop named Glenn Cook. Most damning of all, Gillich also directly implicated Pete Halat.

To prove his story about Holcomb, Gillich brought investigators to an old house where, he said, Holcomb had test-fired the .22. Closer investigation revealed bullet holes in the floor right were Gillich had said the shots were fired. Holcomb was located and arrested, charged with murder.

The noose was now tightening around Halat, with Mr. Mike hauling in the rope. Gillich described the fatal Angola meeting at which Nix and Halat had been present and asserted that Halat did, in fact, finger Vince as the one responsible for the missing money. Soon after that, according to Gillich's account, Halat returned to Biloxi, closed his office's safe deposit box, and opened a new one with Vince's name on it and a number similar to that of the previous box. This, Halat apparently hoped, would link Vince to the theft of the money in Nix's eyes.

It was enough for the prosecutors to proceed. Halat was indicted on October 23, 1996. Along with Nix, Holcomb, and LaRa Sharpe, he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Of course, Halat, now a former mayor, vociferously denied the charges, but, by this point, his credibility was shot.

 

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