Jayess man charged in Burnette arson, murder cold-case

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 26, 2007

A Jayess man was arrested late Thursday in the 21-year-oldslaying of a Lawrence County couple.

William L. “Billy” Miller, 57, of 575 Renfroe Road, was chargedwith two counts of murder and one count of arson in the killing ofBrock and Annie Burnette on Feb. 21, 1986, said Lawrence CountySheriff Joel Thames. Miller was denied bond Friday and remains inthe custody of the county jail.

Thames said he could not provide details of Miller’s involvementin the crime.

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“All I can say is he was directly involved based on ourevidence,” the sheriff said. “I can’t get into motive rightnow.”

However, law enforcement officials have said through the yearsthat robbery was the apparent motive because the Burnettes wereknown to carry large amounts of cash and wear expensivejewelry.

The Burnettes were killed on a Friday in February 1986 at theirhome on Holmesville Road.

Annie, 66, was home sick that day with the flu, Thames said.Brock, 65, the owner of an oilfield supply business in Morgan City,La., was last seen when he went to a restaurant on Holmesville Roadto get their dinner.

The couple’s home was discovered burning and their 1985 Buickwas missing later that night. The couple’s bodies were found intheir vehicle the following Monday on timber company land betweenDivide and Robinwood. Both had been shot by a large caliberhandgun.

No leads were developed at that time, Thames said, but eachsheriff’s administration since the crime has worked to solve thecase with the assistance of the District Attorney’s office,Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol investigators, State FireMarshal’s office, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the stateattorney general.

Miller’s arrest makes five arrests in recent months on cold casemurders and four in the last week.

Ira A. Boudreaux, 55, a former resident of Jesup, Ga., wasarrested and charged with two counts of accessory to murder in theBurnette slaying in October. He pleaded guilty in December.Boudreaux had been serving time for conspiracy and extortion infederal prisons in Georgia and Florida.

Leads developed by previous administrations, as well as his own,identified Boudreaux as a chief suspect, Thames said.

Officials have long believed three men were involved in thecrime, Thames said. One is believed dead, but the sheriff saidMiller’s arrest will not close the case.

“We still have others that could be involved,” he said withoutfurther elaboration.

“This has been a week,” Thames said. “We had no idea this wasgoing to drop in our lap this week. We’ve been working toward thissince Boudreaux’s arrest.”

Earlier this week, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Departmentarrested Henry Lambert, 50, his wife Sandra Lambert, 41, and hismother Alma Greer Lambert, 82, in connection to the July 31, 1997slaying of William Clayton “Clay” Lambert, 32, all of Jayess. HenryLambert was denied bail on a charge of murder while Sandra Lambertand Alma Lambert were released on a $5,000 bond for accessory afterthe fact to murder.

Clay Lambert died of a single gunshot wound to the neck from asmall caliber handgun. His body was found Aug. 8 in the back of hispickup in a wooded area off of Evans Loop Road within feet of theLawrence-Lincoln county line.

Clay Lambert and Henry Lambert were cousins.