Traffic accident leads to murder arrests
LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell kneels Saturday morning outside the home of Stanley Lyles. Deputies sent to check on the man Friday night discovered his body inside the house. PHOTO BY WILLIAM F. WEST / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By William F. West / community editor
August 25, 2002
The body of a 47-year-old Lauderdale County man was found in his home Friday night, and two men are being held in Kentucky on suspicion of capital murder in the death.
Maj. Ward Calhoun of the sheriff's department said the body of Stanley Lyles was inside his 883 Sneed Road house, just off Old Eighth Street Road west of Meridian.
Eric Michael Thomas, 20, of 401 55th Ave. in Meridian, and Jonathan Richard Davis, 18, of Green Cold Springs, Fla., are expected to be extradited from Kentucky early this week. But, Calhoun said Saturday, capital murder arrest warrants have already been issued for the two men.
The sheriff's department has a "rap sheet" on Thomas, but Calhoun said he cannot discuss the man's prior criminal record.
Calhoun said Thomas and Davis became suspects after they were involved an accident Friday, about 3 p.m., on Interstate 75 in northern Kentucky. They were driving Lyles' 1993 Ford Explorer.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Chad Mills determined the vehicle with Mississippi license plates didn't belong to either of the men, according to a statement from police in Kentucky. Davis and Thomas told Mills they had stolen the vehicle from a home in Mississippi.
The Kentucky trooper charged Davis and Thomas with receiving stolen property and the two were jailed in Grant County, about 20 miles south of Cincinnati.
Calhoun said Kentucky police wanted to find Lyles and ask him if he knew the suspects had his Explorer.
Lauderdale deputies went to check on Lyles late Friday night.
County investigators want to question another person, Rosemary Para, age and address unavailable, who has lived in the Meridian area.
Both Calhoun and Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell declined to comment further or disclose additional details because of the ongoing investigation.
Lyles' body was expected to be turned over to the corner's office for an autopsy. A Mississippi State Crime Laboratory investigator was working the scene early Saturday morning, with a crime lab equipment van parked in the driveway.
In Mississippi, a capital murder charge is filed when an accused person is suspected of committing murder while in the commission of another crime which Calhoun said would be automobile theft in this case. A conviction on a capital murder charge can result in the death penalty or a life sentence.
Anyone with any information about the case is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 917-8888 or the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department at 482-9800.
According to Calhoun, Lyles' death is the first capital murder in county jurisdiction since 1996.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.