20 years later, justice waits in double murder

By By Sid Salter
March 6, 2002
I took the coroner's photos out of the dog-eared, three-inch thick file I've kept on the case and the carnage still overwhelms me. Why did he stab two middle-aged women? "It felt good," he said years later on Death Row.
A sickening anniversary
Twenty years ago today, three Scott County teenagers discovered the battered, lifeless bodies of Mrs. Katie Bell Moore and Mrs. Odell Noblin on a lonely U.S. Forest Service road south of Forest and notified the county sheriff.
Moore, 47, was the mother of four children. Noblin, 52, was the mother of 10 children. They had been reported missing after being seen at a Forest bar called Robert's Drop Inn late on the night of Friday, March 5, 1982. A search for them began on the morning of March 6 only hours before the joyriding teenagers made their grisly find.
The blood-soaked bodies were found sprawled along the muddy ditchbanks of the dirt road. It had rained all Friday night before the discovery on Saturday afternoon. Medical examiners would determine that each victim had been stabbed and slashed more than 20 times.
Bobby Glen Wilcher of Lake then a 19-year-old dropout with a 9-month-old daughter was charged with the crimes. He had been stopped by Forest police for speeding in what would later be proved to be Mrs. Noblin's brown 1978 Datsun. The arresting officer described Wilcher as "saturated with blood."
In separate trials in 1982, Wilcher was convicted of capital murder for both killings and sentenced to death in both cases. Wilcher's been in Parchman since 1982 his murder convictions on appeal. Those appeals bore fruit when Wilcher won new trials in 1994 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Mississippi juries couldn't comprehend the words "heinous, atrocious and cruel" in jury instructions given them in the 1982 trials.
Wilcher was again convicted in 1994 and again sentenced to death in both cases. He remains on Death Row at Parchman.
Justice delayed, denied
The 20th anniversary of the bloody slaughter that claimed the lives of Odell Noblin and Katie Bell Moore is a simple story. The victims are still in the graveyard and the killer is still awaiting the punishment to which he was sentenced 20 years ago. Wilcher has had four murder trials, four sets of appeals up the state and federal ladders and four trips now to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Several of the victims' families members have died. It's maddening.
Mississippi has become the death penalty Twilight Zone. Our state Supreme Court is lazy and impotent on the issue and citizens here should question why it is that Florida, Texas and Oklahoma seem to be able to impose the death penalty while Mississippi can't. The fault is with the court.
As long as Mississippi continues to make the death penalty a joke, stone-cold killers will stab and slash because "it felt good." Unlike Wilcher, however, the victims still won't get 20 years of judicial appeals.

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