Detectives Call I-55 murder a “Mystery”

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(Panola County, MS) Thousands of cars travel up and down Interstate 55 between Memphis and Jackson, Mississippi every day.

Investigators want to know why one of those people ended up shot to death as they drove down the highway, and more important, who pulled the trigger.

Investigators from Panola County, Mississippi’s Bureau of Investigation, the Highway Patrol, even the District Attorney combed the shoulders of Interstate 55, looking for clues to a murder.

John Champion said he’s never seen anything quite like it,  ”This is bizarre.  I really have not.  This is something that really doesn’t add up".

They say an unidentified 74-year-old man was Southbound on 55 about 1:30 in the morning, when someone apparently pulled up alongside, pulled a gun and opened fire into his 1999 red Ford F-150 pickup truck with a camper shell on the back.

It turned what looked like a traffic accident, into a murder.

”There were apparent indications of bullet holes in the vehicle,” said  Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby who says the man had no ties to the Mid-South and was passing through from Nebraska on his way to Florida.

Sources close to the investigation tell us the assailants shot several times at close range and the victim may have been reaching for his cell phone when he ran off he road and into the guard cables here.

Folks who live and work nearby, say the murder left them in fear.

”It just scares me, ‘cause I do have kids and I used to bring them up here, but now I’m not any more, cause I don’t like hearing about that stuff,” said Samantha Salvana.

For now, investigators don’t believe there’s any danger to the general public, but they add, they can’t prove there’s not, either.

”Researching going North, and South statewide, nationwide seeing if there’s anything related possibly to this but as of now, there’s no further indication it is,” said Sheriff Darby.

Investigators found shell casings which could end up their only clue in this strange, seemingly random case.

”We don’t know what happened right now and this may be one of those deals where the public needs to help us solve it,” Champion explained.

If you saw anything, heard anyone talking about this case, or know anything, call the Panola County Sheriff’s Department 662-563-6230 or the Mississippi Highway Patrol 662-563-6400.

It could be the only way detectives solve this case.