On January 8, the Department of Public Safety in coordination with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation released a Most Wanted List with 10 individuals who were of high priority to be detained in Mississippi.
Since releasing the list, five of those individuals have already been apprehended.
Commissioner of DPS Sean Tindell said it has been over 25 years since Mississippi has done a most wanted list.
“Back when it was done, of course, we didn’t have social media and it was a much different landscape,” said Tindell. “In looking at other states and knowing the power of social media we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring it back so that we could get this list of violent criminals and get their names out because they were either wanted by local law enforcement or they had absconded parole and were bad people that needed to be back in prison.”
Tindell said he joined forces with MBI’s Colonel Lee Morrison, Mississippi Highway Patrol and Colonel Randy Ginn to compile the list. They reached out to local enforcement and other state agencies and asked if they had any individuals they were looking for that might fit the lists’ criteria.
The main piece of criteria for an individual’s name to make it onto the Most Wanted List is to be listed on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). They also have to be some sort of violent criminal or sex offender. Tindell said if there is a major drug trafficking offender they will be considered for the list.
Since releasing the list, Tindell said the response from the public has been incredible.
“We released it on January 8 and almost immediately we started getting tips,” said Tindell. “If you went to our Facebook page you could see at least on a couple folks saying ‘oh yeah, that’s the guy. We recognize him, we’ve seen him.’” He said those individuals then began calling the Crime Stoppers hotline with information about these individuals.
The list’s number one offender, Allan Henderson, was apprehended after individuals recognized his photo on the list because he was working as a preacher.
Henderson was convicted of choking his girlfriend to death in Pearl and leaving her body and their nine-month-old outside of the daycare. He served time for manslaughter. He was released on parole after serving most of his sentence but shortly stopped showing up for parole and absconded.
“God might have forgiven him, but he still owes a debt to the state of Mississippi,” said Tindell. MBI began searching for Henderson and he eventually turned himself in.
Another individual was Kevin Cope, a former coach who was charged with a sex offense against one of his students but failed to appear in court bringing forth warrants for his arrest. It just so happened that a Clinton Police Officer had written him a ticket the week before and recognized his face and name from the list. He then went to his superiors and they put a team together and arrested him.
“I really want to thank local law enforcement and state law enforcement. I want to thank the men and women of the state who take the time to look at the list and go ahead and make the report and make the tips,” said Tindell.
When looking at the list, if you think you see someone you recognize or have any information on someone listed, you can contact the local law enforcement agency that is looking for that individual or you can call Crime Stoppers.
Tindell said they have begun reaching back out to local law enforcement for more individuals that can be added to the list. He said he plans for it to be an ongoing thing that they will continue adding to. He said he expects to keep the list around 10 people at any given time, closely following the model that the FBI goes by.