HOUSTON VOICE • JANUARY 28, 2000
inside Brutal killing shakes up Mississippi gays
Around the South 7 Prosecutor says there's 'no evidence' of a hate crime,
Gore meets wiih gay Houstonions 7 but activists say it may be too early to tell, and
Texos executes menially ill goy killer 7 area gays say tney remain afraid
Give Rocker o chonce, Turner soys 7
Georgia bases discharge gay soldiers 7 bv LAURA BROWN "sa;i they "T"'1 fTliar ™* ,*e are'>
3 .a* but mey encjed Up at the gay club, he said.
Defense may test evidence in child killing .. .7 Jamie Tolbert, last seen New Year's Eve at "Why Joey's on the Beach? It just doesn't
Around the Nation . II a Mississippi gay bar, was found dead Jan. make any sense."
16 near Mobile, Ala. His body was discov- But investigators said they believe Kabat
Spanish-longuage ads favor Prop. 22 11 ered on a rura| road after a ]r>day manhunt and Bentley targeted Tolbert for his new
Anti-gay remark unleashes campus debate .11 that ended when two suspects were arrest- Nissan Xterra, a car friends say he had only
„ . ,, ,,„,ij., ... ,, ed in California. had for about four months.
Hearing set for 67 Methodist ministers ....11 To|bert_ 24_ djed of strangu,anon and "The information we have is they had
Murderer suspect in three more killings ...11 "multiple blunt force injuries" to the head, been in the area looking for this particular
Colo, board votes lo keep teacher 11 all*°n!^.fid: u. t „ , vehicle" said Tucker, the Mobile Countv
The California Highway Patrol arrested Sheriff s department spokesman. Ihe two
Post Out: Brutal lesson in bathhouse etiquette .13 Brent David Kabat, 19, and Jeremy Shawn men were seen at other locations in the area,
VOICES & ECHOES Bentley, 22, driving Tolbert's 2000 Nissan apparently discussing stealing a car, he said.
. . . , ,. Xterra. Investigators who tracked the two Tucker declined to give details on evi-
tdilonal: boydor Hop zeroes in 8 men across t|u, C(nmtrv as thev used denco for that conclusion, citing the ongo-
Forsten: Self-love and a little sag 9 Tolbert's credit cards said they believe the ing investigation. He also declined to
.. .... , y . n c . n motive was robbery. answer questions on what investigators
Sincere: Why gays should support Boy Scouts .9 „We M J^ ^ so|e ^^ was bcMeve ,Q be the ,jmdinc of ,hl, c^mc_
OUT ON THE 8AY0U robbery," said Mobile County (Ala.) whether Tolbert met his assailants at the bar,
Weathering the winter blues 17 sheriff's Department spokesman Chad and how Aey were able to get into his car.
Tucker, asked if Tolbert's murder may have It was not a violent car-jacking, but at
Coming together on Common Ground ....1/ been a hate crime. "They were looking for some point in the evening he was kid-
Out in Print: 'Breakfast with Scot' 18 this particular vehicle and waited for him." napped, and taken out of Mississippi into
The prosecutor who will handle the Tolbert Alabama where he was killed," Tucker said.
mmm '8 case has said she agrees with that conclusion. George County Sheriff George Miller,
Eating Out: A sublime old world 23 But Tolbert's friends and acquaintances said whose omce worked with Mobile Countv on
On St.w A seal with an nrtktfc view 74 Tolbert was m> and they fear his sexual on- the investigation, told the Biloxi Sun-Herald
Un Mage. A seal with an artistic view 24 ^^ J*^ ^ ^ fa ^ ^ lhflt investifiJtor(. have talkcd Wlth someone
COMMUNITY The possibility has prompted fear from who claimed to see Tolbert talking with two
Lesbian conference needs volunteers 25 gay residents along the Mississippi and men at joey's the night he disappeared^
. . . . „ Alabama coast, and concern from activists Tucker declined comment on the theory,
Community Calendar 26 who say po|ice may have dismissed the but stressed that "nothing we have" indi-
Occosions 27 possibility of a hate crime too easily. cates ToIbert knew hls assailants before the
u r. i nn "The Mississippi gay community is not night he was killed.
My srars " like 'in your face' gay, but we do stick with Prosecutor JoBeth Murphree dedined to
each other," said Jody Renaldo, who main- answer an>' questions related to evidence or
DIRECTORY 28 tains the web-site for Joey's on the Beach, the "facts of tliecTime," including when or how
* , the Biloxi gay bar where Tolbert was last Pol,ce ■*« Tolbert met h,s aocused killers'
CLASSIFIEDS 30 seen t>n New Year's Eve "'hese are two bad 8uys- and ' ***'
CARMART 31 "Within our community, whether you are want to do anything that might jeopardize
in Culfnort, lackson, Biloxi or even Mobile the P^ecution, said Murphree, assistant
ISSlie 1005 (Ala.l, ... we are all family, and it has hit us d,stnct attornc-v ,n Moblie Countv- Ala-
pretty hard," Renaldo said. But Murpbiee said at this point, evidence
does not suggest that Tolbert was the victim
Jamie Tolbert, 24, was last seen at a
Mississippi gay bar on New Year's Eve. His
body was found two weeks later, and some
say they fear the killing may have been a
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Police and prosecutor:
'no evidence' of hate crime
l oca! press reports have not mentioned that
Tolbert was gay, or that Joey's on the Beach—
which features rainbow flags on its web-site,
and a regular schedule of dance music and
drag shows—caters to a gay clientele.
Acquaintances said Tolbert's parents, who
pressed police for help and mounted their
own search for their missing son, may not
have known he was gay until after the crime.
"The family did not know and they are
finding out after the fact, and it must be really hard for them to find out like that, but the
fact is, he is," said Renaldo, who posted a
memorial to Jamie Tolbert on Joey's web-site.
"Lucedale, the little town where Jamie
was from, is really Christian, really Bible-
toting people," Renaldo said. "So [the family | is having to deal with that issue on top of
the fact they have lost their son."
Renaldo said he "definitely h
Tolbert's death is a possible hate crime. The
two suspects, both from North Carolina,
of a hate crime.
"Right now, there is nothing in the evidence to indicate that," she told Houston
Voice. "However, as the investigation progresses, if we see anything that points in that
direction, we certainly will acknowledge it."
Sheriff's departments in Mobile County,
Ala., and George County, Miss., worked
together on the case, tracking Kabat and
Bentley across 18 states, from North
Carolina to California, as they used
Tolbert's credit cards.
California Highway Patrol officers arrested the two men driving Tolbert's Xterra and
carrying a large amount of weapons, the
Mobile Register reported. Kabat and Bentley
told police where to locate Tolbert's body, on
a rural road off of U.S. 90 in Grand Bay, Ala.
Both suspects are being held in the
Siskiyou County jail in California, awaiting
an extradition hearing before being
returned to Alabama. They are charged
with capita] murder and could receive the
death penalty if convicted, Murphree said
While Tolbert has been found and the two
suspects have now been arrested, the case
continues to provoke controversy among
Gulf coast law enforcement jurisdictions.
Mobile Countv Sheriff Jack Tillman and
George Countv Sheriff George Miller blasted the Biloxi police department for allegedly
not following up on the case when Tolbert's
family contacted BPO to report him missing.
"If they'd have put out a missing person
report, we'd have been after them faster,"
Tillman told the Mobile Register. "In the
meantime, you've got a momma and a
daddy and a family that's upset because
their boy's been missing for two da
Miller said Tolbert's family then contacted his department, which put out a missing
person report on Jan. 5.
In an interview with Houston Voice,
Biloxi Police Capt. William R. Kirk denied
that his department did anything wrong in
its handling of the case.
"When thev first came to us, the information they had did not say that [Tolbert) had
made it to Biloxi, so therefore the family-
was told to file the report back in George
County," Kirk said. "It was later determined
that he had been here in Biloxi, but at that
time the report had already been filed in
Kirk described Joey's on the Beach as "a
gay bar," but joined other law enforcement
officials in stating that the killing does not
appear to be a hate crime.
Asked whether the fact that Tolbert was
last seen at a gay bar contributed to the
Biloxi police's reluctance to investigate the
case, "not at all," Kirk said.
Activists divided on approach
When Renaldo, the web-master for the
bar, found out Tolbert was reported missing
in (ieorge County, he forwarded information
about the case to NationalGayLobby.org, an
on-line advocacy group.
NGL Executive Director Michael
Romanello immediately branded the incident a hate crime.
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