Silenced by the Dixie Mafia: Final curtain

Dixie Mafia

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.”

 

269AA3DF-E5F5-4BEA-AEC3-C970A6EA4CF3

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:

  1. One recent gunshot wound of the head entering the right temple, contact, exiting the left temple through the brain (no bullet in the wound)
  2. 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:

37809887_10217045104343358_1896567805982015488_n

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.

D4E5C044-3733-42CE-BF29-F9A2DD6C73D9

 

 

 

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia Part 3: A Judge is Murdered

Dixie Mafia

According to an article on the FBI’s website, in 1983, federal authorities designated the entire Harrison County Sherriff’s office as a criminal enterprise. Sheriff Leroy Hobbs was hand in hand with the Dixie Mafia. In 1987, a prominent judge and his wife were murdered in their home and some of the local corruption would be exposed. Now 30 years later the rest of this story will be told. Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret were murdered in their home on the evening of September 14, 1987. The official report states that Pete Halat and Charles Lager “discovered” the bodies on the morning of September 16th. The popular tv show “The FBI Files” even states this as fact. This, however, is merely another coverup perpetrated by this group of people. One lone woman knew the truth for decades and now everyone will know. Pete Halat had been to the house the day before with one honest cop bound by a gambling addiction and his name is Lt. Dan Anderson.

Can someone be honest and be a gambler? Yes. Can someone be bound by an addiction to gambling? Of course. We see this every day. Is it too far-fetched to assume this man could be forced into silence because of his addiction? What if his son had already died of suspicious circumstances? I will let you ponder those questions as I relate to you the story of September 15, 1987.

Lt. Dan Anderson worked as a court bailiff for Judge Vincent Sherry and considered him a friend. On the morning of September 15th, Anderson arrived early to the courthouse to get the building ready for the day’s legal wranglings. He turned on all the lights and adjusted the thermostat and made the coffee. Strangely, the judge never arrived. Judge Sherry hadn’t missed one court date in his entire career. As the clocked ticked past his first appointment his bailiff began to worry. Anderson made a phone call to the judge’s house but there wasn’t any answer. Finally, Anderson called the judge’s legal partner Pete Halat and asked if the judge happened to be in the office with him. The answer was negative. Concerned, Anderson told Halat that he wasn’t waiting any longer. He was going to drive over to the judge’s house and see what was going on. Halat immediately told the bailiff that he would meet him at the judge’s house.

Together they approached the door of the house and Dan Anderson noticed it was partially opened. He called out “Sherry,” a nickname for the judge and there wasn’t a response. Anderson carefully pushed open the door and found the body of the 58-year-old man lying on the floor. Continuing through the house, Anderson found the body of Mrs. Margret Sherry in the bedroom.

Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Dan Anderson told Pete Halat what he found. This is where the case gets even stranger. Instead of calling for backup, Pete Halat sends the bailiff home claiming that he would handle the situation. Supposedly, he didn’t want the media to find out about this until he could get the police on site and figure out what happened to the judge.

Lt. Anderson returns home distraught after seeing the corpses of his friends. Before he could get himself together, his daughter Phyllis happened to call. On this rare occasion, Dan Anderson poured out his emotional story to his daughter giving details of the crime scene. Phyllis listened and tried to console her father and promised to call and check on him later that evening. When evening came, her father was back to his tight-lipped self and refused to speak of it again. Phyllis had no way of knowing that her father was being forced into silence. She assumed it was his quiet way of dealing with trauma.

The next day Pete Halat makes a big deal of the judge being late for court and persuades his junior law partner, Charles Lager into driving out the judge’s house with him. This is where the “official” report begins. Halat barely steps into the house and steps back out onto the porch to report the two were dead. Later in trial Lager would confess that Halat didn’t seem shocked by their death. Also, he stated that Halat didn’t go all the way into the back of the house where Margret’s body lay. How did he know they were both dead? Well, you and I know the truth.

An investigation was launched and eventually, a partial truth came out. Pete Halat and a few others had been in league with the infamous Kirksey Nix, Jr on a big money-making scam. The FBI labeled it “The Lonely Hearts” scam. Basically, Nix had found a way to con hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the local gay community. He would post pictures of good-looking men in the paper along with a tear-jerking ad. This poor handsome gay man was looking for love, was being wrongfully accused, and needed money to help with his legal fees. Trying to help out, these victims would send in their money and their love letters. Then the criminal scumbags would turn around and blackmail these good-hearted men. In the 1980’s most of these men weren’t open about their sexuality and Nix found it easy to blackmail them.  By September they were raking in six figures. This is when Halat begins to get greedy. Why did he have to put all the money back in a safe deposit box for Nix? Instead, he transferred $100,000 to a safe deposit box he shared with Judge Sherry. When Nix found out about the theft, Halat blames it on the judge. Nix hires a hitman to kill the couple and Halat wins all the way around. You see, Halat wanted to run for mayor and one of his biggest political rivals was Margret Sherry. Now Halat had the money, the Sherrys were gone, and two years after their death he becomes the mayor.

The FBI investigators had to keep the case close to the chest for fear of tipping off the corrupt mayor, but in October 1996 Halat’s charade was over when he was arrested and tried for his involvement in the murder of Judge Sherry. Nix and the hitman would get life in prison, but Halat only received 18 years.

Phyllis knew about the case, but her father tried to keep her from paying too much attention to the news. Living two states away in Georgia, it was easy to get distracted by her own life and not follow the case too closely. It would take a chance meeting in a restaurant before Phyllis would get her father to speak of the case again.

Fast forward to 1997. Phyllis and her husband were having dinner when she overheard the people behind her say something about the Sherry murders. Phyllis being a good ‘ole southern gal has never met a stranger and can talk to anyone. She turns around and innocently asks the man if he were talking about the murder of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret. To her surprise, the man glared at her and without saying a word he stood up with his woman and left the restaurant. Phyllis was taken aback and glanced at the table and noticed they hadn’t even eaten their dinner. When she returned home she phoned her dad and told him about the strange encounter.

Dan exploded on the phone demanding to know what the man looked like. Phyllis described him not understanding her father’s outburst.

“That was John Ransom. He’s the S.O.B. who killed Sherry and Margret.” Dan also told of Pete Halat’s involvement and then demanded that she never speak of this case to anyone again.

I wish I could say that this is the end of this story, but we have one more murder to cover next week. Lt. Dan Anderson would be killed. Guess what? His death was ruled suicide. Surely, by this point in this story, you won’t believe that for a moment. Below I have listed a few links to more information about the case of Judge Sherry and his wife.

 

More info:

http://themississippilink.com/2013/05/22/ex-biloxi-mayor-still-denies-role-in-killings/

https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article173225801.html

 

 

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia – Part 1: Buford Pusser Story

Buford_Pusser

Photo courtesy Wikipedia: fair use

The movie Walking Tall tells the Hollywood version of the real-life story of Sherriff Buford Pusser’s war with the Dixie Mafia. A two-hour film cannot possibly explain the entire story, nor can it relate the stories of all the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the story of murder, betrayal, and cover-ups didn’t end with the death of Sherriff Pusser. I will try to relate this massive tale to you, but it may take more than one post.

1967:
The Dixie Mafia was known as the State Line Mob and was led by Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was in prison when his lover, Louise Hathcock pulled a gun on Sherriff Pusser and was killed. Upon hearing the news, White called his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr and ordered the hit on Sherriff Pusser and his wife, Pauline.

August 12, 1967:
Sherriff Pusser received a disturbance call in the wee hours before dawn. Pauline Pusser decided to ride along with her husband as she had done on many occasions. The pair drove out to New Hope Road to check it out. The disturbance was a ruse to ambush the young sheriff and his wife.
Pusser passed the New Hope Methodist church looking for the reported disturbance but continued driving when he found the place quiet. A black Cadillac pulled out from behind the church and followed the sheriff with its lights off. As the two cars reached a narrow bridge, the Cadillac flashed on its headlights and came racing up beside the officer’s car.
The Cadillac’s passenger opened fire hitting Pauline in the head. The sheriff ducked stepped on the gas. The engine roared to life, and the car lurched ahead of the assassins. He sped up the road a couple of miles until he was sure he had lost his tail, and then pulled over to check on Pauline. Moments later the assassins again found their mark and gunshots rang out hitting Sherriff Pusser in the face and jaw blowing it apart. Somehow the sheriff would survive the attack, but Pauline was killed.
At first, Pusser declared he knew precisely who was responsible and named Towhead White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. After 18 days in the hospital and a dozen surgeries to repair his face, Pusser declared he couldn’t tell who had shot him.

 

Was it the trauma that caused his amnesia or was the hard-nosed police officer going to exact his own revenge?

 

Time would witness the deaths of three of the conspirators, but Kirksey Nix would remain on the loose. Legends would be told about the great Buford Pusser, but the story didn’t end with his death in a 1974 car wreck. Kirksey Nix continued and became the head of the Dixie Mafia. By 1987, Nix would be embroiled in another major hit.

Here is where the side stories start creeping into this case. The Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob were prevalent in the area due to the payoffs of local officials and the coverups by local police departments. This allowed the mob to rule without much interference. Although a few shady officers corrupted the police departments, other lawmen were threatened into silence. At this point in the story, I would like to interject one officer named Lieutenant Dan Anderson of the Harrison County Sherriff’s Department.
Six weeks after the ambush of Sherriff Pusser on New Hope Rd, Lt. Dan Anderson’s son, Ronnie Anderson was shot and killed in his apartment. The case was immediately ruled suicide despite massive evidence to the contrary.

What happened to this 17-yr-old polo victim in leg braces?

What kind of threat could he really have been?

I will dive deeper into the case of Ronald Anderson next week and follow up with the murder of his father, Dan. Along the way, we will highlight the nationally publicized case of the slaying of Judge Sherry and his wife. All these bizarre murders are tied together with a delicate string. That string is the Dixie Mafia. Find out more next week when this cold case story continues.