Monday, November 23, 2009

Couple filmed entering murdered man's apartment

“I wouldn’t knock old fellows in the dust,” from John Crowe Ransom’s Captain Carpenter.

Charles Pickell [pictured] was a 74-year-old military veteran who lived alone in his Beauvoir Manor apartment in Biloxi, Mississippi. Although he had health problems, neighbors said he was friendly and always spoke. According to Bernard Brown, who lived across the hall, people in the apartment complex kept an eye on each other.

At about 7:45 a.m., on September 19, 2009, Brown heard two people banging on Pickell’s window. “It was strange,” Brown said. “He’s sickly and doesn’t have company that early. I didn’t recognize [the visitors].”

The couple, a man and woman, left Pickell’s apartment, loitered in the parking lot for a few minutes, then returned. By this time, Brown was thoroughly suspicious and grabbed his video recorder. “I saw them coming back to his apartment and I just...started filming,” he said. The strangers entered the invalid’s apartment and stayed for several minutes.

A few hours later, Pickell was found dead inside his apartment.
“We found a scene that led us to believe it was probably a homicide,” said Biloxi Police Department Captain Darrin Peterson. “[Pickell] appeared to have been struck with some type of object.”

When Brown learned of the murder of his friend, he contacted police and gave investigators the videotape he’d made.

Cops contacted local media and soon pictures of the unknown suspects were filling the local airways. They were quickly identified as Jeremy William Radau and Megan Kinberger. The two were arrested a few hours later. In addition to being charged with murder, the couple also admitted to the burglary of the Cabana Bar and Grill in Gulfport.

In Mississippi, the murder of an elderly person can result in a charge of capital murder, meaning the defendants could face the death penalty.

Bernard Brown said suspicious activity at the apartment had convinced him to set up his camera. “There’s been some other stuff happening,” he said. “So I just left [my video camera] set up by my window there.”

Captain Peterson said, “From what we’ve found out, [Pickell] was just a very nice guy. [He] would help anybody.”

Robbery may have been the motive for the murder.

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