He had held their secrets close for decades to protect his loved ones, but now the man who killed his son was sitting right behind his lovely bright-eyed daughter. At the age of 80, Lt. Dan Anderson was tired of keeping secrets. Phyllis watched her father’s demeanor change rapidly. Anger seeped from every pore until “that son of a &$#@” fell from his lips. Shocked she turned to look at the man who caused such a reaction but was quickly reprimanded by her father.
“Don’t you look at that son of a $@#% Phyllis.”
Phyllis did what she was told and stared down at her plate until the man got up to leave. He seemed to slowly pass her table on purpose. A menacing smirk was plastered across his face. Phyllis analyzed the stranger as he walked out the door. Dan refused to mutter a word about the man until he was well out of the parking lot. He knew his feisty daughter would tear after the man if she could.
“Do you know who that was?”
“No, but I can tell you don’t like him Daddy,” was her innocent reply.
“That’s the Son of a %$@&$ that killed Ronnie.”
Phyllis sat there shocked. This admission came from the very man who had spent the last 36 years telling her that Ronnie’s death was suicide. Every time she called the police department, she would get a call from her father demanding that she “cease and desist.”
She tried to get more details from her father, but he wouldn’t speak another word. Frustrated, she let the conversation slip onto other topics, but when they stood to leave Phyllis stayed behind to get a refill on her drink. After her father walked outside, Phyllis went to Trudy. Trudy had worked there for decades and was up on all the town gossip. Trudy told her the man’s name was Jeffery Bass. She even went as far as to give Phyllis the directions to his house.
Four months later, Lt. Dan Anderson was dead in his driveway from a gunshot wound to the head. The coroner immediately ruled the death suicide. I am here to dispute otherwise, but let’s back up a couple weeks before this tragedy and see what happens.
Phyllis gets a call from her father one evening asking for her help. A woman named Cherry Learn had moved in with him as a housekeeper, but she wasn’t doing anything around the house, and he wanted her to leave. Phyllis was recovering from surgery and was in a cast but promised to throw her out as soon as she could. Phyllis wouldn’t get the opportunity.
April 18, 2003:
Around 4:30 pm, Lt. Dan Anderson supposedly walked out to his driveway and shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Anderson lived on a busy street, yet there weren’t any witnesses during rush hour traffic. Years later the police somehow drag up two people who say they heard a gunshot sometime in the afternoon, but no one can find these witnesses to re-question them. It seemed they appeared just in time for the FOIA request but disappeared again afterward. Who knows? All of that is merely speculation. I will let you speculate on your own time. Here are the facts of this case as I can prove from interviewing the victim’s family and working through the official autopsy.
Cherry Learn told the police that Dan had sent her to the store to buy cigarettes and when she returned she found him in the driveway. The FOIA documents clearly state what she told the police. Cherry told the investigator that she parked right behind Dan Anderson’s Cadillac and she confirmed that this car was still there when she moved out of the house later that day after the death of Anderson. I will tell you why that is significant later.
Around midnight Phyllis received a phone call from her father’s attorney stating that Dan Anderson had committed suicide. She fell to the floor devastated and screamed, “not again.” She packed up and went to Gulfport. When she got there the coroner, Gary Hargrove wouldn’t allow her to see her father’s body. Instead of showing some compassion for the grieving family, he chose to be rude and arrogant. Since she wasn’t getting anywhere with the coroner, Phyllis drove over to her father’s house. She expected to see some evidence of a crime. Instead, the house looked like nothing had happened. There wasn’t any crime scene tape, the driveway was clean, and there weren’t any blood stains. She walked into the house looking for evidence but found no evidence of violence. It was as if time had stopped and this was a bad dream.
Dan liked to keep everything neat and tidy, but the house looked as if it had been detailed. There wasn’t a speck of dust in the place. To make matters worse, Cherry Learn had lived there for a month, and there wasn’t any evidence of her left. Phyllis said she couldn’t even find a bobby pin. In the FOIA papers Cherry Learn said she only lived there four days, but Phyllis had received a phone call about her two weeks before her father’s death, so we know that’s a lie.
As Phyllis slowly took in her surroundings, she noticed something odd. On the nightstand by her father’s bed was a carton of cigarettes with four packs in it. She walked into the den where her father spent a lot of time, and there were two more packs on the end table. One pack was full, and the other was only missing four cigarettes. Why had Cherry Learn gone out for cigarettes when there were so many packs laying around the house?
She also noticed that her father’s valuables had been taken. He was a 33rd degree Mason and had beautiful rings, but they were nowhere to be found. All the china and crystal in the house had been thinned out and the remaining pieces spaced out on the shelves so their removal wouldn’t be obvious. The more she looked, the more she noticed things missing. Also, the Cadillac wasn’t in the driveway anymore. Police would later claim that it had been sold months before her father’s death but remember the FOIA papers said that it was IN THE DRIVEWAY on the day of Anderson’s death.
Now let’s move on to the autopsy report. If you aren’t already questioning this case and its suicide ruling the first few lines of the autopsy report will force you to question it.
The autopsy diagnoses dated 4-19-2003 states the following:
- One recent gunshot wound of the head entering the right temple, contact, exiting the left temple through the brain (no bullet in the wound)
- blood spatter and powder particles on BOTH HANDS
Ok. It also states that his pants were unbuttoned and the zipper down. His socks were covered in dry plant material. It also states that his fingernails and toenails were neatly clipped and clean.
Ok. Here goes the rant…
Dan Anderson was a tidy person, and I’ve been told that wouldn’t go outside in his sock feet. If he wanted to, there was a driveway and a sidewalk to walk on. He was particular enough to have nice nails, but he ran outside with his pants undone?
The documents say one hammerless Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver, 4 bullets, 1 shell casing, and one leather holster was recovered from the scene. No one recovered the spent bullet. The autopsy said it was a through and through wound, so why wasn’t it recovered in the grass? No ballistics testing was done to prove that this gun was the weapon used to kill Anderson. To make it even worse, the FOIA request shows the police department destroyed the bullets and shell casing four days after Anderson’s death. They sent Phyllis a copy of this release that she supposedly had signed. Phyllis swears she has never seen the paper before and the signature on the bottom of it was not hers. Who signed Phyllis’ name?
Dan Anderson was 80, but he was a strong man and didn’t suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Why then would he have to use both hands to fire his service revolver? Remember the autopsy said there was gunshot residue and blood spatter on BOTH hands. Anderson showed no signs of suicidal tendencies.
Now here comes the outline of the wounds found on Dan Anderson’s body, excluding the gunshot wound. To reconstruct these wounds I got help from my son. I drew all the markings on his hands and legs with a washable marker and photographed them. This is what I found.
Left index fingertip anteriorly (meaning the palm side) there was a fresh wound. The left middle finger dorsally (meaning the back side of the hand) over the proximal phalanx was another wound. Proximal Phalanx means the back side of the hand down between the base of the finger and the first knuckle.
The autopsy also states he had a large wound on the FRONT of his RIGHT shin and on the top of the right big toe. Lastly, it states he had an abrasion on the back of the left-hand side of his head just above the hairline. Dan Anderson had male pattern baldness.
If Lt. Anderson somehow shot himself with both hands and fell BACKWARD that would account for the wound on the back of his head. If this is the case, then why the scrape down his right shin and his right toe? If he fell FORWARD, he might receive a small abrasion on his knee, but not a large scrape, and he wouldn’t have a wound on the back of his head.
My armchair conclusion is Lt. Anderson’s death should not be ruled suicide. It is highly unlikely that this man would suddenly decide to send off his housekeeper, undo his pants, walk out in his front yard and shoot himself using both hands on his snub-nosed revolver. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t suicidal, and he cared about neatness enough to keep both his fingernails and toenails groomed.
The officials would like to make you believe this is what happened, and to add to the fairytale, he must have shot, then fell forward, dragged himself around the yard scrapping his leg up, then dropped down upon his back hitting the back of his head. If all of that makes sense to you, then I must add all the details of the missing items and the missing Cadillac. If you believe all of that, then I have some ocean front property in Kansas that I would like to sell to you.
Phyllis’ 50-year battle:
If this wasn’t enough to concern you, then one must also add in the battle Phyllis Cook had fought over the last half a century. She has continued to call trying to get help for her brother’s case and her father’s case. It took fifty years for someone to tell the poor woman that there wasn’t an autopsy performed on her brother. All these years she had been calling asking for an autopsy report and information on her brother, and it took a true crime writer to point out the truth. When I received a copy of the death certificate, it clearly stated there wasn’t an autopsy. Why couldn’t they tell the grieving family this?
The FOIA documents outline the police department’s investigation to verify Phyllis’ claims. You read this document and find the investigator ties up the story with a pretty little bow, but half of it is untrue, and the other half is conjecture. If I went into every discrepancy within this report, I would need another entire blog post, but I will relate one more incident with you.
February 5, 2013:
Phyllis again calls the Gulfport police department and speaks with a cold case investigator that I will leave nameless. When she starts relating the story to this man, he tells her that he is 99.99% sure that her dad and brother were killed by members of the Dixie Mafia. Up until this point, Phyllis had never heard about the Dixie Mafia. Now as she looked back over the years, things were starting to make more sense. All of these cases weren’t random acts of violence. They were all connected to one organization. Her brother was murdered six weeks after the Dixie Mafia ambushed Sherriff Pusser on New Hope Road. Did Ronnie overhear something he shouldn’t have from his roommate? Police say they finally found Jeffery Bass and he was only 15 at the time of Ronnie’s death. I went on Ancestry.com and found a Jeff Bass that fit the age, and he has a son name Jeff Bass JR.
There’s another entire story around Bass. Police gave Phyllis a photo lineup, and she pointed out the man she seen in the restaurant. The police say that the man couldn’t be Jeffery Bass and has tried to convince her to pick another picture of a man named Jimmy Johnson. Phyllis even went back to Trudy who firmly states that she said his name was Jimmy Johnson and then tells Phyllis to leave it alone before she gets hurt.
It’s hard to fit this entire story into a blog but believe me, if Phyllis ever decides to write a book about this case she could fill it with all the discrepancies, and it could make a series.
Four months after Dan Anderson’s death the Dixie Mafia’s hitman John Ransom was released from prison and former mayor Pete Halat would be released in October 2012. Phyllis believes her dad was killed because he was starting to talk. If all the secrets were out, Halat and Ransom might have to spend life in prison along with their buddy Kirksey Nix. Is this why Lt. Anderson was killed? We may never know for sure since all the evidence was destroyed and everyone refuses to look into this case. How deep are the Dixie Mafia ties? I believe they are as long as the Mississippi River and twice as dirty.