Officer: Suspect strangled landlady, went to buy beer

Investigators say purchases were made using victim’s bank card

KILN

Timothy Evans killed his landlady and dumped her body on a Harrison County road between shopping trips and personal errands, a Hancock County investigator said.

Hancock County Justice Court Judge Jay LaGasse on Friday bound Evans over to a grand jury in the murder of Wenda Holling, and kept his bail at $1 million.

Holling’s three daughters, clutching tissues and each other, watched quietly as Evans shuffled into court for his preliminary hearing.

Evans, 52, in handcuffs and shackles, wore a bulletproof vest over his red-and-white-striped prison-issued scrubs. He never looked at Holling’s family as he sat with court-appointed attorney Todd Thriffiley just a few feet away.

Investigator John Luther, the only witness to take the stand, said Evans told police during their search for Holling in early January she asked him to move out of the room he was renting in her Kiln home when she returned from a week’s vacation in Florida with friends.

Harrison County workers found Holling’s body in late January near Turan Road.

Forensic pathologist Paul McGarry released the cause of death as strangulation. He said in his report Holling had defensive bruising on her hands and forearms.

Evans, after his Feb. 17 arrest in Florida, told deputies he had “killed someone in Mississippi in self-defense,” Luther said.

He told Florida deputies Holling pointed a knife at him after he’d come home drunk and in the struggle she fell and hit the front of her neck on a table.

The version he allegedly told Hancock County authorities after his extradition involved him unsuccessfully smothering Holling with a pillow after she caught him taking her bank card, then he strangled her as she crawled away from him, Luther said.

Luther said Evans admitted putting Holling’s body in the trunk of her car and giving a buddy a ride before he stopped to buy beer and cigarettes with her bank card. He told Luther he drove awhile before settling on Turan Road to drop Holling’s body in the woods. He then tried to make more purchases with her card at a Walmart, but the card was denied, Luther said.

However, Evans sent Luther a letter March 7 from the Pearl River County jail amending his previous statement.

Evans said in the letter he wanted to use Holling’s bank card so he tried to smother her with a pillow as she rested in a recliner. When that didn’t work, he choked her with his hands, he wrote.

Barbara Gex of Bay St. Louis said Evans had lived with her mother on and off for several years.

“He’s where he needs to be so he can’t hurt anyone else,” she said after deputies took Evans back to jail.

Evans last moved in with Holling in May, Gex said.

Mississippi Department of Corrections records show at the time Evans was on parole for a third-offense felony DUI. He’d completed his five-year sentence Oct. 23.

By DONNA MELTON – dmelton@sunherald.com
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