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Starns: A long ride to face justice

By Staff
EMOTIONAL MOMENT n Debbie Boswell's fianc, Charles Pepple, wipes a tear from Boswell's face moments after Peggy Sloan Starns was led into the Lauderdale County Detention Facility on Friday. Starns was extradited to Lauderdale County after being indicted in the 1984 death of Boswell's daughter, Angela Schnoor. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star.
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
August 4, 2001
In the arms of close friends and family, Debbie Boswell waited for closure Friday as Lauderdale County Patrol Car No. 17 pulled into the county jail's sally port.
In the back seat of the approaching sheriff's cruiser, with her wrists and ankles shackled for the long ride from Louisiana, sat Peggy Sloan Starns, extradited to Lauderdale County to answer an indictment for murder. Starns, 38, who had been living in Baton Rouge, was arrested July 26 after a Lauderdale County grand jury returned an indictment against her in connection with the death of Boswell's daughter, 4-year-old Angela Schnoor, in July 1984.
At that time, Starns was married to Boswell's ex-husband and Angela's father, Michael Schnoor. Angela, who lived with Boswell, was visiting her father and step-mother's house just before her death.
On July 28, 1984, Angela, unconscious and not breathing, was taken to a Meridian hospital. She was pronounced dead two days later. The cause of death was reported as brain damage due to suffocation.
Boswell worked with two Lauderdale County district attorneys over the past 17 years and then asked Attorney General Mike Moore to re-open the case. He did so earlier this year, assigning a team of investigators.
Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said Deputy Erica Harmon and assistant attorney general Bill East left Friday at 7 a.m. heading to Baton Rouge.
Just before 5 p.m., vehicles began to arrive at the rear of the Lauderdale County Detention Facility, the point where prisoners are delivered. Boswell and about a dozen family members and friends gathered on the sidewalk.
At about 5:15 p.m., the patrol car turned the corner and approached the jail. East and a group of Lauderdale County law enforcement officials led Starns, still shackled, into the jail. Starns turned her face from the crowd.
If she noticed any irony in Patrol Car No. 17 delivering her back to Lauderdale County 17 years after Angela's death, Starns did not express it. She made no comments to onlookers or reporters as she was led into the jail.
Boswell said she could not have gotten through the re-opened investigation and Starns' extradition without the support of people there with her, all of them shedding tears as freely as she did.
Calhoun said the extradition was "uneventful."
Starns could appear in court as early as Monday, Calhoun said.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at