MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) — Friends and family of a Mississippi man found dead in a marsh nearly a week after police chased him there want to know how he died and why officers did not locate his body earlier.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is probing 36-year-old Corri Howard’s death, and Jackson County Coroner Bruce Lynd said an autopsy was planned for Tuesday, the Biloxi Sun Herald reports.
Moss Point police, who tried to stop Howard’s vehicle, said they followed procedure.
“Everything was done properly and above-board,” Moss Point Deputy Police Chief Jim Roe told the Sun Herald.
According to Moss Point police, a patrol officer tried to stop a vehicle for speeding just before 1 a.m. on January 8. Family members reported days later that Howard, who is Black, was driving the vehicle.
The driver jumped out of the vehicle while it was still moving and fled into a marsh, according to a Moss Point police news release. Moss Point is about 30 miles (48 km) east of Biloxi along the Mississippi coast.
Police said the officer pursued the driver but lost sight of him. A stolen handgun was located in the vehicle, and a K-9 team was called in to search for the driver but conditions impeded their efforts, according to police.
Police returned to the marsh on January 13 after a black jacket thought to belong to Howard was located there. They found Howard’s body lying in grass.
Howard’s fiance, Anissa McGary, is demanding answers. Howard was a tattoo artist and father of two, including a 5-year-old girl.
“One thing for sure, he was a really good father,” she said. “He loved his two kids.”
McGary also wants to know why officers did not try harder to find Howard earlier or identify him.
Howard had run from police because he was on parole and had a gun in the car, Howard’s roommate and close friend, Lametra Danielle Bilbo, said. But Bilbo said his family only learned about the incident after a passenger in the vehicle told them about it.
Roe said Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley wants to sit down with Howard’s family members and address their questions and concerns.
“It’s a tragic, tragic event,” Roe said. “But our officers never laid eyes on him, never encountered him. I’ve got all the facts that’ll back it up once we can release it.”