Authorities continue slaying investigation

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 15, 2004

Neighbors remembered Irene Wilcher Rancifer as a friendly andquiet woman Friday as authorities continued an investigation thathas resulted in her grandson being charged with murder.

“She was always real friendly. She would always speak,” saidNicole Martin as she watched Mississippi Crime Lab investigatorssearch Rancifer’s Brookhaven Apartments home for clues Fridayafternoon.

Rosie Banks, another neighbor, expressed similar sentiments.

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“She was real nice person,” Banks said. “She kept mostly toherself and didn’t bother anybody.”

Authorities believe the 63-year-old woman, who was reportedmissing Oct. 30, was killed at the home earlier in the month andthen taken to an area near the old city dump on South WashingtonStreet.

After Brookhaven police received some information in the caseThursday night, Antwoine Rancifer, 25, was brought in forquestioning. Antwoine Rancifer, the woman’s grandson, later ledauthorities to the body’s location and confessed to the killing,said Lincoln County Sheriff Wiley Calcote.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the police andsheriff’s department conducted a joint investigation into thewoman’s disappearance.

“We felt very strongly one of the family members wasn’t tellingthe truth about the incident that happened,” Henderson said Fridayduring a press conference.

Calcote said it appears the woman was struck in the back of thehead with an object. The object has not been recovered, the sheriffsaid.

The sheriff indicated drugs were involved, but authorities havenot determined what kind.

“He made the statement he was using drugs at the time hecommitted the crime,” Calcote said.

An autopsy on the body was completed Saturday at MississippiMortuary Services, said Lincoln County Coroner-Medical ExaminerClay McMorris. He said results are not yet available.

A motive in the killing also has not been determined.

“We’re questioning people in the apartment complex where theylived,” Calcote said, adding that they have not located anywitnesses to the crime.

Antwoine Rancifer had been coming to visit his grandmother offand on for about a year, said Brookhaven Apartments Manager DebbieBeard. Rancifer listed his address as the same as hisgrandmother’s, but his name was not on the lease, Beard said.

Martin said she was shocked to hear that Irene Rancifer had beenkilled and that her grandson was the suspect.

“I can’t believe something like that would happen, but I guessthat kind of devilment is everywhere you go,” Martin said.

After his grandmother was reported missing, Banks said sheexpressed her concerns to Antwoine Rancifer. She said the young manwas always polite, but gave no indication of his involvement in thewoman’s disappearance.

“To me, he seemed like a quiet person,” Banks said.

Calcote and Henderson said Antwoine Rancifer had a criminalrecord of minor offenses in California and also in Pontotoc,Miss.

Calcote said the man could also be connected to an unsolvedslaying in 1999 on Arthur Drive in Lincoln County. That year,51-year-old Alford Jones was found in his truck after he had beenshot.

The sheriff said Antwoine Rancifer was questioned as a suspectin that case, but not arrested. He said authorities planned to lookinto that case again.

“We will be investigating that,” Calcote said.

Following his early Friday arrest, Antwoine Rancifer was in jailon a $1 million bond. Pending the return of results from the crimelab, Calcote said the case will be presented to the next session ofthe Lincoln County Grand Jury.

Funeral services for Irene Rancifer, under the direction ofWilliams Mortuary, are incomplete.