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Mississippi Woman Faces Murder Charge for Allegedly Hiding Her Son’s Body Behind a Wall

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A 66-year-old woman in Mississippi is facing a murder charge. According to police, they had found her son’s body hidden in a wooden box behind a false wall in her home. Her son had earlier been declared missing in December 2023.

A mugshot of Jerri Roby Israel.
Source: Gulfport Police Department / Facebook

Authorities are charging Jerri Roby, who also goes by the last name Israel, with a count of first-degree murder. According to Gulfport Police Department spokesman Jason Ducre, the count comes after the police found the body of her 42-year-old son, John Allen Gaither, hidden behind a wall in her home. The body of her son had been stuffed into a wooden box.

DuCre told CNN that the police started investigating Gaither’s disappearance on December 22, 2023, after one of his relatives in another state called to file a missing person report. The last known contact anyone had made with Gaither before his disappearance was on December 10.

Following the report, the police began their investigation, followed up on several leads, and “began noticing discrepancies in statements provided by Israel [sic]. Throughout the course of the investigation, Israel [sic] became increasingly uncooperative and changed her statements multiple times,” a news release from Gulfport police reads.

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“It was learned that Israel was arrested and convicted of murder in Florida around 1995. Detectives further discovered that Israel committed the murder and subsequently made several attempts to dump the deceased subject at different locations throughout Florida. With this additional information, Detectives obtained a search warrant for the residence,” the report also said.

Furthermore, according to the report, detectives and Crime Scene Technicians searched the residence on January 18, 2024, at about 10:00 a.m.. During the search, Israel injected a handful of unidentified pills when she saw the detectives enter her home. However, the authorities quickly rushed her to a local area hospital for medical treatment.

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“During the search of the residence, a wooden box containing a deceased subject, later identified as John Allen Gaither, was located behind a false wall,” the news release states.

According to authorities, Israel tried to cover up her tracks. She went about writing notes to several family members pretending to be her deceased son so that they thought he was okay. The police also discovered homemade wooden boxes in her house and the garage.

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Additionally, the police immediately arrested the 66-year-old after she was released from the hospital. She is currently being held in custody at the Harrison County Detention Center without bond. According to DuCre, Israel is considered a flight risk based on her past criminal record.

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So far, there hasn’t been any statement regarding Israel’s motive or how she committed the crime. Also, there’s yet to be any information about a court appearance or Israel’s legal counsel. However, there are speculations that the case would be quick based on the authorities’ evidence. Israel might also be handed a very stiff penalty for her crime.

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