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Relative Threatens Revenge In Three Slayings

February 14, 1989

PORT GIBSON, Miss. (AP) _ A man jailed on suspicion of killing his ex-girlfriend’s grandmother and aunt had been released after being questioned in the recent slaying of the women’s friend, authorities say.

And a relative of the two women is threatening revenge if the man is released again.

″If he gets out again we’re going to do something about it,″ Freddie Alexander, 52, said outside the ramshackle house where the partly clothed bodies of his 88-year-old mother-in-law and 58-year-old sister-in-law were found Sunday.

″He will not walk the streets in this county again as long as there is family here.″

Authorities questioned the ex-boyfriend of Rose Griffin on Monday night in connection with the sexual molestations and stabbing deaths of Mary Bell Simmons and her daughter, Georgia Mae Thomas.

Alexander, his wife, Dorothy, and police found the bodies Sunday.

Bloodhounds led authorities to an area near the suspect’s home, several blocks from where the bodies were found. The 28-year-old man was arrested that night.

The man had been arrested two weeks ago and released on $5,000 bond following the strangulation of a close friend of the slain women. No murder charges have been filed in either case.

Relatives said the man started making threats against the family after he and his girlfriend broke up just before the first slaying.

″He’s a maniac and he was going out with my cousin,″ said Dorothy Appleton. ″He said he was going to kill everyone in this family.″

The bodies of Ms. Simmons and Ms. Thomas, who moved back to Mississippi in 1978 from Chicago to take care of her elderly mother, were found in a bedroom of their home. A butcher knife used in the slayings was found near the bed, authorities said.

Bertha Peterson, 47, was found dead Jan. 29 in her home on the other side of Port Gibson, a town of about 2,300 halfway between the Mississippi River towns of Natchez and Vicksburg.

″They were my grandma and my auntie,″ said Griffin. ″And the first lady was my best friend.″

Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis said he believes the three slayings are connected.

He said the man was arrested after the first killing and questioned about it and was charged in an unrelated house break-in. There was not enough evidence to press a murder charge, Davis said. The man was released Saturday after his relatives posted bond.

The man was being held Monday night in the county jail and had not been charged pending the return of reports from the Mississippi Crime Lab, Davis said.

″We like to charge people on evidence and at that time there was not enough evidence,″ Davis said.

The women found Sunday had stab wounds to the chest, were sexually assaulted and were undressed from the waist down, authorities said. Ms. Peterson had been beaten and sexually assaulted before being strangled, Davis said.

Freddie Alexander said the suspect had frequently done odd jobs for the two women killed Sunday and neighbors had told him the man delivered a load of firewood Sunday morning.

″I guess that’s the way he is. He does something nice and then he explodes,″ Freddie Alexander said. ″But if that guy hits the street, I’m going to do something.″

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