A Coast man will be executed Thursday for the murder of a Biloxi store clerk
who was beaten, strangled, sexually assaulted and still alive when she was run
over with a car in 1995.
William “Jerry” Mitchell, 61, is scheduled to be the second killer put to death
by lethal injection in a week at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at
Mitchell has been on death row since 1998, when a Harrison County jury found
him guilty in the slaying of 38-year-old Patty Milliken. He was on parole for a
previous murder when a Biloxi police officer found Milliken’s body, nude and
mutilated, under the Popp’s Ferry Bridge on Nov. 22, 1995.
Milliken had lived in Gulfport a couple of years and was a cashier at a Majik
Market on Popp’s Ferry Road. The mother of 4 disappeared from the store near
the end of her shift.
Milliken had called her son to tell him she would be home in 15 minutes, and
stepped outside the store to smoke a cigarette with Mitchell, court papers
show. A few minutes later, a co-worker cut his finger and went outside to get
Milliken to relieve him while he bandaged it.
Milliken had disappeared, but her purse, car keys and cigarettes were still in
the store. Her co-worker reported her missing.
Officer Tim McKaig, now a detective, went looking for Mitchell that night to
question him about the disappearance. There was no reason to believe she had
been killed, and a camera crew from “Coast Justice,” a locally produced
reality-based TV series aired on WXXV, was following police work.
McKaig testified he found Mitchell in the backyard at his father’s house on
Croesus Street. “Before I could say anything,” McKaig said, “he said, ‘Who’s
there?’ and I said, ‘Police. I just want to talk to you,’ and he ran.”
Mitchell sped off in his Pontiac Grand Am. Police saw his car at a U.S. 90 gas
station, and he sped off again with five police cars pursuing him. His car
crashed into a chain-link fence near the CSX railroad tracks and Caillavet
Street. The “Coast Justice” crew filmed it.
Mitchell was on parole for the 1974 murder of Irene Edwards, also killed in
Harrison County. He had stabbed her to death with 2 butcher knives when he was
home from college 1 weekend.
From missing to murdered
The morning after Milliken disappeared, a police officer who had heard of a
missing woman stopped under the Popp’s Ferry Bridge to look for her. He found
her body under the north end of the bridge.
(source: Biloxi Sun Herald)