A Strange Suicide – The Controversy Surrounding the Autopsy & Death of Lt. Dan Anderson

48387950_263445567660369_1743446475213373440_o.jpg Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A very tidy 80-yr-old trudges out through his grassy lawn in his sock feet with his pants undone, shoots himself in the head, falls backward leaving an abrasion on the back of his head, and then flops over cutting his shin and bruising the top of his toes. If that wasn’t enough to question the suicide ruling then hold on, there’s more. Why did he have gun powder residue on BOTH hands when the hairpin trigger on his service revolver was easily manageable? Why did the blood splatter on his pants look as if he were kneeling? Why were the bullet casings destroyed a few days later WITHOUT the consent of family? Why was the daughter’s name forged on the consent form?


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.
Ms. 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. Learn 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 bloodstains. She walked into the house looking for evidence of violence but found none. 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, 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 MS. 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 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 apparent. 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 indicates 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, four bullets, one 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 backside of the hand) over the proximal Phalanx was another wound. Proximal Phalanx means the backside 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 says 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 oceanfront property in Kansas that I would like to sell to you.
After writing about this case a year ago, Phyllis has been blessed to find a forensic investigator willing to take on her case. This investigator has found many new details about this case, and witnesses have come forward to clear up some missing links. Now, there is some indication that the original autopsy might have been manipulated to bolster the suicide claims. Unfortunately, those details must be held close until after the trial, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be writing more about it when I get the green light.


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More Information On This Case:

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ForeverMissed

Slabbed

Murdered In Mississippi


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The State Line Mob vs. Sheriff Buford Pusser

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

He was a different breed of law enforcement, but he was perfectly matched to battle it out with the State Line Mo. Beyond the myth & legend, did Buford Pusser’s ambition to wipe out the mob lead to his wife’s murder?


This week we delve into the facts and fiction behind the legendary sheriff Buford Pusser. His life was immortalized in the series of “Walking Tall” movies, but how much of those scripts were accurate?

Can one man take on the Dixie Mafia and win?

Whatever your opinion of the man, Buford Pusser had the moxie to try. He refused to take bribes like he’d seen other law enforcement officials do and tried to clean up the state line.

It was a different world back then.

Law enforcement officials weren’t tied down with as many rules and regulations back then. Pusser’s “strong arm” tactics wouldn’t be allowed in this politically correct world. If you didn’t break the law then he was a hero. If you did, he was an evil thug.

Back in the 1960’s & 1970’s the phrase “strong arm of the law” meant something entirely different then it does now, but B.P. was still criticized back in the day. The High Point Enterprise ran an article on April 7, 1974 titled, “Buford Pusser: Hero or Thug?” The title explains a lot. Even back then some people questions the lawman’s methods.

The six years he was sheriff were filled with blood and violence. He patrolled the state line waging war on prostitution, illegal gambling & moonshine. Pusser was 6’6″ giant of a man weighing in at 250 lbs. During his wrestling days he was known as “Buford the Bull.”

Born on December 12, 1937 in Finger, Tennessee the Bull would rage through life until his death in 1974. He was only 36. Some claim he was a hero who died to soon and others wonder if he left more pain in his wake than necessary. Was he a hero or a thug? We may never know. People still argue over this man’s exploits four decades after his death.

In 1964, Buford Pusser became the Sheriff of McNairy County Tennessee and the war began. Shortly after receiving his new title, the State Line Mob offered Pusser $1,000/month to look the other way, but the big man refused. During his tenure, the sheriff jailed 7,500 criminals and dismantled 85 moonshine stills. Legend says he did this all in the year of 1965, but I was unable to verify that. It is more likely that he did that in the span of six years. Who knows? Maybe someone will come forward after reading this article and show me documentation to prove otherwise.

It was a known fact that B.P. didn’t carry a weapon into his battles with criminals. Instead, he depended on his brawn to take down the bad guys. This would all change in November 1965 when he was attacked by a group of hired assassins. Pusser was left to die with seven stab wounds. Perhaps it was grit and determination, or maybe it was divine guidance, but either way Pusser recovered and jumped right back into the fight, only this time he jumped in with a .41 magnum Smith & Wesson.

February 2, 1966, Sheriff Pusser was called to the Shamrock Hotel. Someone had filed another complaint against the owner Louise Hathcock. A couple unsuspecting visitors were robbed while staying at the infamous hotel. It was a familiar story. Hathcock currently had two warrants out against her for theft and possession of an illegal substance (moonshine.)

The sheriff took off towards the hotel with his gun in the glove box, but his deputy suggested he stop and strap on his gun. That decision would either save his life or allow him to commit murder. It all depends on which side of the fence you sit on.

During the visit a drunken Louise pulled her .38 and shot at Buford. In her delirious state, she missed giving B.P. enough time to fire off a few rounds in return. Of course this killing was justifiable in the eyes of the grand jury and the sheriff faced no charges in the ordeal. Pusser’s critics, however, claim Louise Hathcock was shot in the back therefore constituting murder. I have not been able to find an official autopsy to confirm this theory. I have, however, found many of the original reports on the incident, all of which point to self defense.

Whatever happened in that room, it triggered a series of blood letting that would make history. When the dust finally settled seven years later, the great lawman an most of the State Line Mob were dead. Two big names would survive and become the next generation of the Dixie Mafia.

Next week we will get into the ambush of Sheriff Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd and the blood bath that ensued. Stay tune folks this tale is far from over.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

The Jackson Sun

The Statesville Record

Weekly Wire.co

Synova’s Youtube Video


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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State Line Mob: Predecessor of the Dixie Mafia

The State Line Mob

Long before the phrase “Dixie Mafia” was coined by law enforcement officials, there was the State Line Mob. Like it’s successors, the S.L.M. were a barely organized band of

criminals that would do anything and everything to make money. They ran their criminal enterprises along the Mississippi and Tennessee border; hence the name. This deadly group would spawn a cast of characters like Jack & Louise Hathcock, Carl Douglas “Towhead” White, and even launch the legend of Sheriff Buford Pusser.


While Hollywood would catch wind of the infamous sheriff and create a series of “Walking Tall” films, they were highly exaterated. The truth of the State Line Mob and the man who waged war against them was insane enough without extra dramatization. Over the course of the next few weeks I will dive into this tale. Corinth, Mississippi got a reputation in the 1940’s as a hideout for some Chicago Outfit members, and that continued for several decades.

This story weaves back and forth throughout the history of the south, but I will start our tale with one infamous hotel: The Shamrock Hotel & Grill.

Shamrock Motel This photo courtesy of the The Tennessean · 12 Aug 1973, Sun · Page 164

This rough and tumble establishment straddled the Mississippi/Tennessee state line and was owned by Jack and Louise Hathcock. While Jack was ruthless in his own right, his wife was the southern, hammer toting spitfire. Every vice known to man could be found at this little Dixie getaway. Murders and muggings were commonplace on the grounds of the Shamrock. Eventually, both owners would be killed there, but that’s a story for another day.

louise hathcock

Photo courtesy of Find A Grave

While much of the story of the State Line Mob is urban legend and can’t be officially documented, the crimes at Shamrock were well documented in police reports. It was said that visitors would be lured in by a cheap breakfast and then robbed of their valuables. If anyone complained to the police, they would wind up at the bottom of the river wrapped with logging chains.

Here’s one legend that I cannot debunk or verify, so I will let you decide:

At the age of 17, Buford Pusser witnessed Louise Hathcock literally beat a sailor to death with a ball-peen hammer. When the dirty cops arrived, they immediately took Hathcock’s suggestion that the man died of a heart attack. Supposedly this is why Pusser would later become a sheriff that refused to take bribes. Who knows? I’ll let you decide on that one, but I’ll be diving into the legendary lawman more next week.

Another character in this tale is Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. He was a southern outlaw with a goal. He wanted to become more infamous than Al Capone. Although he was a thief, assassin he never quite attained the reputation of his idol. Towhead was later rumored to be a lieutenant in the Dixie Mafia.

Louise Hathcock preferred Towhead over her husband Jack, and together they conspired to kill him. On May 22, 1964, Louise Hathcock killed her husband on the grounds of the infamous hotel. Of course, the story of self-defense was accepted, and no one was ever charged with the murder of Jack Hathcock.

Next week I will get into the war that raged between the State Line Mob and Buford Pusser. Don’t forget to check out my Mobster Monday posts each week along with my cold cases on Fridays.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

The Jackson Sun

Synova’s State Line Mob YouTubeVideo

Synova’s Louise Hathcock video


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own any photos used in this post. No copy right infringment intended. Photos used under the fair use act for informational purposes only. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

IMG_20190316_075643_170.jpg

SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.

VIPERTEK VTS-989 – 58 Billion Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight

How To Be Your Own Bodyguard: Self Defense for men & women from a lifetime of protecting clients in hostile environments.

Synova’s True Crime books are also available on Amazon.com

Unorganized Crime: Journey to Redemption

Snatched: The FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes and more (Synova’s Case Files)