Letter threatening life of Mississippi county supervisor sent for DNA analysis, sheriff says
Published 6:30 am Sunday, November 6, 2022
Officials say they are waiting on the results from DNA testing to determine the next steps in the investigation of a letter threatening the life of a Mississippi county supervisor.
Sheriff Shane Phelps said this week the investigation into the letter that threatened the life of Panola County Supervisor John Thomas is ongoing, and his office is waiting on DNA analysis from a private testing facility.
“I had hoped it wouldn’t take this long, but it’s out of my control,” Phelps said. “The company asked for more evidence from us and they have that now.”
The national news of an attack on the husband of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi in California, and other lower profile attacks on elected officials across the country, is a reminder of the potential dangers that public officials face.
“Unfortunately we are hearing about this kind of thing from around the country, and we know that it can happen here as easy as anywhere,” Phelps said. “Our officers take this very seriously and we will continue to work on this case until we have some answers. If the test results don’t match the person of interest then we will start over and not stop working on it. It’s a matter of principle for us.”
The threatening letter was received at the Batesville Courthouse on Aug. 16. It had been postmarked in Memphis on Aug. 12.
The unsigned letter said if Thomas did not begin road work at Enid Shores by Sept. 1 the writer would first kill the supervisor’s family and then him.
While some took the correspondence to be an idle threat of a disillusioned citizen, Phelps said the Sheriff’s Office has treated the incident seriously. A person of interest was identified shortly after the letter was received, but he wasn’t able to be questioned because he was hospitalized in Memphis following an auto accident.
That person, known to live in the Enid Shores subdivision at times, was interviewed by investigators when he was released from the hospital, but declined to provide a DNA sample. Phelps obtained a warrant for a sample and the person submitted a cheek swab.
That sample, along with the original envelope, was sent to the testing laboratory. The lab later asked for the original letter and that has also been sent.
“When we get the results we will contact John and Amy first and then let the public know what has developed,” Phelps said. “Our officers take this very seriously and we will continue to work on this case until we have some answers. If the test results don’t match the person of interest then we will start over and not stop working on it. It’s a matter of principle for us.”