DIXIE MAFIA EXPOSED – JUSTICE FOR THE SHERRY MURDERS

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CLARION-LEDGER MAY 22, 1991

Article re-published from Synova Ink with Permission


The battle raged for ten long years, but two warriors refused to abandon the case. Lynn Sherry Sposito and FBI agent Keith Bell kept fighting until justice was served for the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret.


How did this criminal enterprise finally crumble? Although it would take a decade to find justice for the Sherry murders, the foundations began to erode when investigators learned of the Dixie Mafia’s involvement. The first clue came in rather quickly after a neighbor spoke to Lynn Sposito about a strange car in the area on the night of her parent’s murder.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported on the abandoned car believed to be the getaway car. It was found on September 22, 1987, within a couple of miles from the Sherry house. This 1981 Ford Fairmont would lead straight back to the Dixie Mafia and would get the case rolling.

Not only was this vehicle found close to the murder scene, but it also matched the description given by the neighbor. Strangely, the dome light had been purposely dismantled and the bulb removed. Whoever was driving this car did not want to be seen when he opened the car door.

The car had been stolen off a lot shortly before the murder. Some reports say it was stolen the day before, but in the book Mississippi Mud, it says the car was stolen on the same day. This is not the only discrepancy reported in the book and newspapers. You must remember that both the newspapers and the book were written as the story broke, so they could only write what was known at the time. It is easier to write a story decades afterward in my opinion.

The license plates on this stolen car were registered to another abandoned vehicle from three years earlier. This stolen Firebird had been abandoned in front of an apartment complex. A known Dixie Mafia member named Lenny Sweatman had stripped the car for parts before it was towed away. That tangled web is what led the investigators to the doorstep of the Dixie Mafia. Sweatman would lead to the club owner, Mike Gillich. Gillich would lead back to Kirksey Nix and his Lonely Hearts scam.

The scam was on the police radar for a while and investigators wondered if the murder was connected, but they had no proof. It would take a couple of snitches, a little legal wrangling, and a lot of patience to bring down the killers.

Bobby Joe Fabian was serving a life sentence in Angola prison when he decided to work with investigators in hopes of shortening his sentence. Fabian was the informant who would officially link the scam to the murders. He told of Kirksey Nix’s involvement and implicated Pete Halat. He also told authorities that known hitman, John Ransom was the triggerman. This would later be proved false, but it was enough to get the ball rolling.

Bill Rhodes, an associate of Ransom turned states evidence and claimed he had been hired to drive the getaway car. He claims to have met with Mike Gillich and Pete Halat several months before the murder. Rhodes was to drive and Ransom was to kill the Sherry’s, but this plan fell through when John Ransom was arrested five months before the death of the Sherrys.

As it turns out, Ransom provided the weapon used to kill the judge and his wife, but was not the triggerman as first alleged. Eventually, investigators persuaded Mike Gillich to turn informant. When he finally told his side of the story he spoke in great detail even telling how the hitman put superglue on his fingers so he wouldn’t leave prints behind in the house. He also gives the name of the actual triggerman. Thomas Leslie Holcomb was offered $20,000 to kill the Sherrys.

Nix and the crew were indicted in May 1991, but Pete Halat somehow escaped the noose. It was difficult for investigators seeing the Mayor’s smiling face on the news knowing he was involved in murder, but knowing they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Finally, their day came when Gillich spilled the beans and Pete Halat was convicted in 1997.

Halat was working with Nix’s former girlfriend Sheri La Sharpe. Together they would stash the money in a safety deposit box, but Halat got greedy and moved the money to a different safety deposit box that only he had access to. Conveniently there was one other name on the box. Judge Vincent Sherry. Sherry had been Halat’s law partner before he left to become a judge. This would give Halat an “out” when Nix eventually noticed the money was missing. Now Halat could blame the innocent judge for the theft and Halat could get off scot-free.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ENTERPRISE-JOURNAL SEPT 23, 1997

Although the Sherrys got justice, this story will continue next week with the only man to have inside information on this case. His knowledge would eventually lead to his death and his murder would be labeled suicide. Find out more about Lt. Dan Anderson’s connection to this case and his murder next week.


Order Your Copy Today!

Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis.

Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons.

Order Your Book Here


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

Sun Herald Article

WLOX

Caselaw

Djournal.com

newspapers.com


This week’s Recommended Documentary:

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Biloxi Confidential

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia


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 the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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LONELY HEART SCAM LEADS TO THE MURDER OF A JUDGE AND HIS WIFE

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MURDERED IN MISSISSIPPI FACEBOOK PAGE

This post has been re-published from Synova Ink with permission

Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret were assassinated in their own home on the night of September 14, 1987. It would take ten years to finally bring all of the culprits to justice, but thirty years later there’s still a part of the story that hasn’t been told. Who found the bodies first? I will give you one guess and it isn’t who you think.


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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CLARION-LEDGER SEPTEMBER 17, 1989

The official story says Pete Halat and a junior partner found the bodies of Judge Sherry and his wife on September 16, 1987. Thirty years later a new voice has arisen to tell a different story. Lt. Dan Anderson was working as the bailiff for Judge Sherry and was worried when he didn’t show up for court. He called Pete Halat thinking he would know where to find the judge since he wasn’t answering the phone. Halat brushed off his questions claiming the Judge had a habit of being late. Finally, Anderson gets upset and tells Halat he is going to drive over to the house and check on Vincent and Margret. This sparks concern in the law partner. Halat tells him to wait and he would go along too.

Together the two men meet at the Sherrys’ house. Anderson knocks on the door and it opens. Inside he discovers the horrific scene. Overwhelmed with grief from the death of his friend, Anderson is told to go home. Halat promised to take care of everything. Instead, he waits until the next day and took a junior partner along to conveniently find the bodies.

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.

Over three hundred people would attend the funeral service for the Sherrys. The event was held at the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral on Howard Ave. in Biloxi. The Clarion-Ledger also reported the strange eulogy given by Pete Halat. He wasn’t scheduled to speak at this service but chose to stand and speak anyways. His extremely long speech seemed to be more of a campaign speech for his upcoming mayoral campaign. He railed about the corruption in Biloxi and spoke of the deceased couple rarely. It made everyone including investigators begin to turn a wary eye on the lawyer.

Last week we left you with the story of the abandoned Ford Fairmont. To recap, it was seen by a neighbor the night the Sherry’s were murdered. This tip would lead back to a man by the name of Lenny Sweatman. Investigators knew if Sweatman was involved then another Dixie Mafia member would be close by. Mike Gillich owned the Golden Nugget nightclub and was good friends with the notorious Sweatman.

The case reached a stagnant point and looked like it might be going cold, but Lynn Sposito, the Sherry’s daughter kept pushing forward. She knew she must get enough evidence to draw in the FBI. They were working behind the scenes but didn’t officially join the investigation until August 1989 when they found definite ties to the Dixie Mafia.

During the murder investigation, another case was running parallel to this story. Kirksey Nix, Jr. had been running a scam from behind the bars of the Angola Prison. Nix had acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars through this scam. His goal was to “buy” his way out of his life sentence. With the rampant corruption in Mississippi at the time, this was quite possible to do. The investigators would label it the Lonely Hearts Scam.

The Scam:

Nix found a way to take advantage of lonely gay men by placing singles ads in the local gay magazines. He would talk of how corrupt the place was and how mistreated he was for being gay. Of course, Kirksey Nix was not homosexual in the least, he simply played a part to con money out of these pen pals. To make matters even more treacherous, he would then turn around afterward and blackmail the men if they were still “in the closet.”

Now inmates cannot have that kind of cash just lying around their cells, so Nix put together a complex scheme to shuffle the cash into a safety deposit box. Who’s name was on the box? Pete Halat and Nix’s girlfriend Sheri La Ra Sharpe. The plan was to store the cash in the safety deposit box until it was time to buy Nix out of his legal troubles, but Halat became greedy and stole $100,000 from the box. To cover his tracks he moved the cash to a box assigned to himself and his law partner Judge Sherry. That way when Nix noticed the money missing he could blame it on the judge.

This all sounds good in theory, but there was one problem. They didn’t have the evidence to put Halat away. It would take ten long years before investigators could find enough to convict him. In the meantime, Pete Halat continued his mayoral campaign and became the 12th mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi.

This complicated the investigation greatly and the FBI had to keep their findings close to home. They couldn’t work as close to local law enforcement as they would have hoped knowing that Halat had confederates in the force.

Next week I will dive more into the investigations, the snitches, and the battles that finally brought down Nix and Halat. Stay tuned guys.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

FBI Files

Newsweek article

FBI page

NY Times

Revolvy Article

WLBT

Wikipedia

Biloxi confidential


Order Your Copy Today!

Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis.

Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons.

Order Your Book Here


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 the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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