Friday, February 27, 2009

JFP: Brad Dew's murder was of "urban-myth status"

Original newspaper articles:
Dew Murder News Articles I
Dew Articles II
MDOC Page of Lamar K. Phillips

I simply can not believe the Jackson Free Press published the following passage in an article about the arts community around Millsaps Avenue:
"In the ’90s, this big crime wave came through and sort of freaked everybody out,” Richardson says. “From what I heard, it was rolling along, and just, in a matter of months, it was gone—the whole art district.”“Yeah,” Young says reluctantly, “I guess you could say there was a crime wave. It seems like a long time ago, though. What happens is, you get a couple of guys breaking into buildings, but then they move out of town or get arrested, and it stops.”“
I would stay at the studio overnight and the next morning, I’d have no tires,” Robinson laments.
“Around ’93, Midtown was considered more of a ‘war zone’ than a community,” admits Habitat spokeswoman E.J. Rivers, referring to the heyday of the nation’s crack epidemic, which did not spare Jackson.
“You’d pick up the paper and people (would) be killing each other all over the place,” Miriam Weems, 13-year veteran of 121, says. “Clients would tell me they didn’t feel safe coming there.”
“Midtown reached its lowest ebb in the early-’90s,” Burks explains........
“And then there was a death in the family,” Robinson says bluntly, addressing the elephant in the room.
The facts are murky. “I’ve heard someone say, ‘My friend got murdered on Millsaps Avenue. I don’t go down there,’” current tenant Drew Davis says.“That didn’t happen anywhere in the neighborhood. It’s farce to think in those terms, so I’m not even going to discuss it,” bristles photographer Gretchen Haines.
But (the killers’) car was spotted outside the Mosquito earlier that evening,” Robinson insists. “I think maybe it was supposed to be a robbery.” She hesitates. “It was such a painful experience for so many people.”
Documented crimes did increase in Midtown throughout the 1990s, but the collapse of the Art District can be traced to a single event. The death of Brad Dew, a Mosquito employee and Millsaps honor student, was too traumatic for the close-knit community to survive and too frightening for the patrons to ignore. His wrecked, bullet-pocked car was found one night after he closed the club and then failed to meet his friends at W.C. Dons. The story obtained urban-myth status, and even now, details are muddled.
But one undisputed fact remains: The car was found at the intersection of West and Mayes Streets, several miles north of Millsaps Avenue. The Mosquito flashed across local news anyway, “as if it had happened right out the front door,” Robinson says. And that was it for the nightclub and Gallery Restaurant..." Jackson Free Press story

"Urban-myth"? "Details are muddled?" Car was found several miles away? Supposed to be a robbery? "Farce"? The only farce is Ms. Haine's quote, as there are so many facts wrong in this story (in addition to the crassness of some of the words used). It's time to remind everyone what exactly DID happen that horrible night in 1992.

Bradley Dew was an honor student and starting linebacker on the Millsaps football team. Highly respected by his fellow students, he was just another hard-working college kid trying to make it in life. He got off work one night (The Mosquito) and was stopped at the intersection of West and Mitchell. A car with two punks, Kendrick Phillips and Cedric Morris, were alongside Dew. Phillips opened fire on Dew, riddling his truck with bullet holes and hitting Dew while chasing him down the street. The bullet entered the lungs and nicked the aorta, killing him a few moments later as his truck crashed into a house on the corner of West and Conti, which is NOT "a few miles north of Millsaps Avenue".

Phillips bragged about killing a white boy on West Street and killed someone else six days later. The idiot used the same gun for both murders. He pleaded guilty to TWO counts of first degree murder. Cynthia Speetjeens (remember her? Hint: Robbie Bell and Bobby DeLaughter) was the prosecutor for Hinds County and signed off on the deal , as Phillips was sentenced to two life sentences that were to run concurrently. The plea and sentencing were very controversial, as under Mississippi law at the time Phillips has been eligible for parole since 2003. Back then a life sentence meant one could be paroled after only ten years. THIS was the main case that caused the legislature to enact the 85% rule since life did not mean life in Mississippi.

Dr. Dew, the father of Brad, discussed the facts of the case in an interview:
"Brad was a very outstanding kid. He had just finished his junior year at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He had been selected an all-conference linebacker and just been selected to Phi Beta Kappa. He decided to stay there and work for the summer and early in the morning of June 7 he was returning home from work. There were two young men who for reasons known only to them had decided they were going to murder the next person who came down the street. They did not know Brad. There was no previous connection. Unfortunately that next person was Brad. They chased him through the streets of Jackson taking turns shooting at him until finally he was killed instantly by a single shot. He was 21 years old. Dr. Dew on The Grief Blog

The quotes mentioned from the Jackson Free Press are simply disgusting. First of all, this was not an "urban-myth" (yes the story mentioned his murder but someone explain what they meant by urban-myth status). Such language is grotesque and very insensitive to the friends and family of Brad Dew. This reporter for the "smart alternative" newspaper reports "the details are muddled" and "murky". They are not muddled but are very clear as the murder was heavily reported. The reporter obviously did no research whatsoever as the story was reported on the front page of the Clarion-Ledger seven times, the front page of the sports section once, and was the subject of a lead editorial as well. A simple search on google using the search terms brad, dew, and Millsaps yield the story of Dew's murder in the first page of results. The newspaper articles included this post were easy to find as they only required a trip to the Department of Archives downtown at lunch today.

What this story sounds like is Ms. Ladd's minion had her little template for a story: a promising arts community is trying to make it in Jackson after being nearly wiped out by racist white people in Jackson who have an irrational fear of crime and black people. Unfortunately for the writer, there is this little matter of a liberal, progressive-type college student who was murdered for fun by two black animals in the same area, which conflicts somewhat with the premise of the story. Well, if the facts are inconvenient, just ignore them as they often do at that publication. Such tone-deafness is all too often the norm, not the exception, as they named Robbie Bell "most intriguing person of 2007", falsely reported the victim in the Jena 6 beating of hanging nooses, and ran a headline about the Irby crash while not mentioning two doctors were killed. (Mr. Irby's daughter used to work at the JFP). Ms. Ladd has herself stated people who think the leading problem in Jackson is crime are "ignorant".

I'm sick and tired of these experts on everything, who in reality know absolutely nothing, appointing themselves our moral guardians and preaching to us from Mount Olympus. No murder or death is too holy for them to use if it means they can make a point. (Remember, they bragged they covered the Heather Spencer murder better than anyone). I don't think I've ever been so angry after reading one of their stories as reading this one, as I was in school down the street at the time. Everyone in Jackson knew about this murder and was horrified by the cavalier manner displayed by these beasts who bragged about killing Dew. Many of us saw what his family and friends suffered and are outraged by the sloppy reporting and innuendos that were present in this so-called story.

Returning to the Dew's murder, it must be pointed out Phillips has been eligible for parole since 2003. The Parole Board reviews his case every 18 months and his family comes down here from Knoxville every time it's up for review in order to ensure he is not released. I've kept up with this case because when the media reported in 1993 he was eligible for parole after ten years, I promised myself I would make it a point to see if he was released when ten years had passed ,as the fact he is even eligible for parole is slap in the face of all Mississippians. The family and community has suffered enough from this murder and should not suffer from sloppy reporting and editorializing.

Note: Dr. Dew has turned this tragedy into something positive (for lack of a better word and I apologize for not thinking of one) as he wrote two books about dealing with grief: Tunnel of Light and Rachel's Cry. They can be found at Dewbooks.com

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you give crayons to children without adult supervision.

Kingfish said...

They owe an apology and should take that section down. If I had written this post Thursday night, the language would have been much more colorful.

Anonymous said...

The lines of truth and fiction are smudged so bad on their coloring sheets so they will continue to color outside the lines. More of the same to come.

It's the JFP, what do you expect? The "alternative" to truth is fiction so by definition they have to continue.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I personally witnessed rampant crime in this area while living there around this time. Have you also heard about the death of another Millsaps student by the name of Jason Hurst? He died in this area around this time under mysterious cicumstances.

Anonymous said...

Ladd didn't even live here when this happened. She makes me sick.

Kingfish said...

That is one of her convenient excuses. I remember when she was busting on the burbs and I told her that Northpark went across the street to Madison County because the city refused to give them any breaks. That was her excuse when it challenged one of her premises.

Hell, I lived her at the time, remembered it vividly and STILL went down and pulled the articles and I don't even claim to be a journalist.

Michael said...

JFP totally disrespects the dead. Seems like cowardice to me.

Anonymous said...

They really do disrespect the deceased. Just recently they disrespected the Murrah basketball player by their Riverside Drive posting.

JFP seems not to have enough smarts or savvy to be reliable or believable.

Kingfish said...

And by the way, Gretchen is lying. In 1991 I worked at the Kroger on Northside and West Street when it was open for a year and then went to law school at MC. It was a friggin war zone. I remember Norwood, the security guy at MCSOL and a former Ranger in Vietnam, and I would sit out in the parking lot at night and play "guess the caliber" as we used to hear so many gunshots from a few blocks away at night. At Kroger we had to reduce the hours from 24 hours to midnight as it was just too dangerous. there would be guns fired in the parking lot. Fights in and out of the store, then there was the stealing and robberies. I remember the now-deceased owner of the newstand over in Triangle Mart being repeatedly robbed yet JPD did nothing (CL gave him a prominent story). The thugs didn't care. He eventually had to shut it down. Or sitting there at the golf place on State street and hearing gunfire from across the railroad tracks at night.

No, it wasn't a war zone Gretchen. It was all media lies and NJammer propoganda.

Anonymous said...

KF--This reminds me of another story of which I never heard the outcome. Michele Fouche? Do you remember anything about this? I seem to remember that it happened in the mid-90s. I don't even know if it was found to be murder. Can't find anything on it.

stilettoGOP said...

Oh my gosh, its been so long since anyone has brought this up. I know this story, I think about it often. I was in pageants with her, looked up to her. I've always wanted to delve more into what happened. I -never- believed it was suicide. I just 'feel' it wasn't. I've never forgotten her.

She was so beautiful..and so, so sweet..

some of the details about her death, (vaguely remember, but).. they just did not add up to me. At ALL.

Anonymous said...

Stiletto, you are right. I was friends with her brother, Jon, and I just remember her being so optimistic and full of life when he was in the coma. I heard things too that didn't make sense. Do you remember what year this was? I didn't even realize it was considered a suicide. I was living out of state at the time, and by the time I got back and heard about it, everything was hush-hush.

stilettoGOP said...

I just hung up with my old pageant coach who knows someone that knew this case really well. She's gona call me tomorrow with more details. But from what I remember, yes, I heard suicide. And something about the gun was in the wrong hand etc. ?? Something about the husband..?

I'll prob know more tomorrow. VERY sad case.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is and sadly cold. I heard they couldn't pin it on him, although it was very fishy. I will look forward to your update. Have a good night!

Millsaps 21 said...

Thank you "Kingfish" for standing up for Brad.

Brad was one of the first people I ever met at Millsaps. I ended up being his friend, teammate, fraternity brother and classmate.

Again, thank you for setting the record straight and posting Dr. Dew's quote and website.

Anonymous said...

to the Anonymous that said "Nice article. I personally witnessed rampant crime in this area while living there around this time. Have you also heard about the death of another Millsaps student by the name of Jason Hurst? He died in this area around this time under mysterious cicumstances."

Firs, this read intrigues me about the mysterious deaths around this area. WTH his going on in the area? I visited the area last back in 2003.

Secondly, Jason Hurst was my older brother. My family received mysterious phone calls with 3 people telling us of what happened. We gathered info to try and piece it together. There is so much more than the media presented and his death likely would've had more "truth" come forward. My family still lives with the unknown. My brother was an incredible guy...

D

Anonymous said...

Michelle was beautiful. No chance of suicide. They found her body at 5127 Saratoga in north jackson. Her husband was a gun and weapons nut. Carried batons and throwing stars in high school. Can't believe they never solved this crime. His second wife died at age 48. Someone needs to reopen this case. Friends of hers at MRA should never have let this be swept under the rug.
They just accepted his alibi. Whether he did it or had his cohorts do it we might never know

Anonymous said...

Brad Dew's murder was not an urban myth. Didn't know him but understood him to be a good guy. Though the one line in the piece that I don't recall being true is that he was "liberal" or "progressive" just because he attended Millsaps. Not even sure why the hell that matters anyway. His murder was a random act by criminals. Jason Hurst was suffocated by police when arrested for wandering near campus, allegedly under the influence of hallucinogens, but I do not recall any report that he was violent. He was a pledge of Pike at Millsaps and the entire fraternity was out of town at a formal. He chose not to go and stayed on campus. Yet the first assumption by local media was that it was a hazing act gone bad. Local TV news had a camera angle from the ground looking up at the Pike House to make it look ominous as they posited "Was it a hazing act gone wrong?" Shameful "journalism." All I remember is that the officers who killed Jason were suspended briefly during an investigation. I don't know the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Brad was a great guy!! I owned wcdons at the time and actually picked up the shells and gave them to cops who did not even seem to care. I actually ran up to his truck after it crashed in a house right down from dons. it was a dangerous time. I was always armed even being a hippy. Now as for Michelle it was definitely NOT suicide. however I do not think it was Clay either although I believed to him to be quite the piece of shit. We all here about the Dixie mafia today. Well I would venture to say that is who was responsible because of debts Clay ran up in his and michelles little x bar. So sad such a beautiful girl who did have a really hard time growing up. Last time I saw her was at my best friends funeral and remember eerily telling another friend her and Clay were next in line.

Anonymous said...

Brad was a great guy!! I owned wcdons at the time and actually picked up the shells and gave them to cops who did not even seem to care. I actually ran up to his truck after it crashed in a house right down from dons. it was a dangerous time. I was always armed even being a hippy. Now as for Michelle it was definitely NOT suicide. however I do not think it was Clay either although I believed to him to be quite the piece of shit. We all here about the Dixie mafia today. Well I would venture to say that is who was responsible because of debts Clay ran up in his and michelles little x bar. So sad such a beautiful girl who did have a really hard time growing up. Last time I saw her was at my best friends funeral and remember eerily telling another friend her and Clay were next in line.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't even realize this thread had kept going past 2009. Someone mentioned Michelle to me the other day and it led me back here.

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