Former Mississippi sheriff remembers 2001 crime, after news that convicted killer beaten to death in prison

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HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — A Clarksdale, Mississippi man serving life for capital murder has died  after reportedly being beaten by three other inmates at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs.

Torrie Ellis was assaulted May 12 and died May 20 at a Memphis hospital. According to Management and Training Corporation, which runs the Marshall County facility, the attack on Ellis happened in one of the facility’s outdoor walkways. The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death.

Andrew Thompson was Coahoma County sheriff in 2001 when he was called to a robbery and shooting at Funderburk’s Grocery in the small community of Bobo.

“Well, it was in the kind of early evening. In fact I just completed eating supper at home when I got the call of the incident,” Thompson recalled.

The crime scene he found was shocking, even for a seasoned lawman.

“Ms. Funderburk was deceased. Her son had been shot, her husband had been shot and a customer had been shot also in the store,” he said.

Thompson said the crime had high priority with his department.

“We stayed on top of it. We worked around the clock until we were able to apprehend both the subjects,” he said.

Within 72 hours two suspects were apprehended and charged. One of them was Ellis, from Clarksdale.

Ellis pleaded guilty to capital murder and aggravated assault and was sentenced to life plus 20 years, initially starting his sentence at Parchman prison.

Thompson was surprised to learn Ellis had been transferred to the Marshall County Correctional Facility, where he was beaten by three other inmates and died.

“I said, ‘Gee, what’s going on?’” Thompson said. “I didn’t even think he ranked to go to Marshall County at that facility, considering the nature of the crime he was convicted of. I thought he would probably stay down at Parchman.”

Funderburk’s Grocery has long been gone from its corner lot in Bobo, five miles southwest of Clarksdale. But the former sheriff says he’ll never forget what happened here.

When it comes to his opinion on Ellis’ untimely death, the sheriff smiled and said little else.

“I don’t want to comment on that. A lady just told me that ‘justice got served,’ so I’ll leave it there,” Thompson said.

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