DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — A former Verona, Mississippi police officer says she’s familiar with the man accused of shooting his wife in Olive Branch earlier this month — and she says she’s heard his story before.
Robert Phinizee is charged with attempted murder in a shooting that injured his wife on Keri Cove on Feb. 10. He told a WREG reporter at the scene that his wife tried to shoot him as they were working things out, and the gun went off, hitting her.
She is still in the hospital in critical condition.
However, detectives in Verona, Mississippi say Phinizee may also be involved with the disappearance of former wife nearly 13 years ago.
Former Verona Police Department Sgt. Tara Sloan said she’s not buying Phinizee’s story, and believes he’s a threat to society.
“Just hearing his voice and saying that they were trying to reconcile, I just knew,” Sloan said. “That’s the same thing he said with Demakia.”
Sloan said she met Phinizee in 2007 when she was investigating the disappearance of his former wife, Demakia Phinizee.
She said Demakia was reported missing by her sister, who said she didn’t pick up her kids from school.
Sloan says when they arrived at Demakia’s home, they noticed all the sheets in the master bedroom were missing.
The first person they called was Robert.
“He tried to say Demakia was missing and probably ran off with a boyfriend. It just didn’t add up,” Sloan said.
She said Robert told them he removed the sheets because the kids wet the bed, but officers were never able to find the sheets.
At one point, Sloan said, she worked with Demakia. She said Demakia would tell her that she and Robert were separating, and she even had a new boyfriend.
“In my heart, I felt like Robert had something to do with this. Nobody else had any problems with Demakia. Nobody but Robert, all because Demakia was trying to leave him,” Sloan said. “She was leaving him and he would stalk her.”
Sloan said Robert was the main suspect in Demakia’s case and they believe foul play was involved. However, the day after Demakia went missing, Robert packed up their home and the kids and left the city.
She said the Verona Police Department had a sudden change in power and the case went cold.
Based on the similarities in both his current and former wife’s case, Sloan said she hopes there will be enough evidence for a conviction.
“Demakia’s family needs closure,” Sloan said. “It’s been 12 years and they need closure.”