Police: Three killed in murder-suicide

Published 10:36 pm Monday, September 3, 2018

Just after the first shots rang through the silence of the Wood Street neighborhood Sunday, witnesses saw a woman running from a pickup truck and screaming for help.

“When we pulled up, we heard gunfire,” said Woodrow Scott, who lives across the street from the small yellow woodframe house where police found three people dead. “We heard that and there was a lady running up the street saying, ‘Call the police. Call the police. He shot my husband in the face.’”

Capt. Clint Earls, an investigator with the Brookhaven Police Department, said the victims are J.T. Miller, 61, of Raleigh, and his daughter, 19-year-old Taylor Nicole Kelly of 228 Wood St. Kelly’s husband, 29-year-old Byron Keith Kelly, of the same address, appears to have taken his own life after shooting to death his wife and father-in-law, Earls said.

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Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said it was a domestic disturbance that led to the shooting.

“It appears the first victim was coming to pick his daughter up,” Earls said. “Whenever he got there, he made it to the front door, attempted to go inside and inform his daughter that he was there, that’s when the first shot rang out, striking the first victim.”

Earls said Miller fell back onto the front porch and died from his injuries.

Miller’s wife, the woman’s mother, was sitting in their truck when her husband walked to the house.

“The mother was in the vehicle in front of the residence so when the shots started ringing out, she ran up the street,” he said.

When police arrived shortly after 4:30 p.m., they found the body of Taylor Kelly just inside the door and Byron Kelly nearby. He was still holding a handgun.

“Just inside the door we found one female victim identified as his daughter and then a few feet away we found the suspect, which is also the daughter’s husband, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” said Earls.

It appears Taylor Kelly was still alive when her father came to the door.

“When we first arrived on scene, we knew we had additional shots that had been fired after the first set of shots, but we did not know if we had a hostage situation, if we still had an active shooter or what so until our tactical team was able to make entry into the house,” Earls said. “We could only move as safety as possible, until we could confirm that the suspect was incapacitated.”

Earls could not say what kind of gun Kelly used to shoot his wife and his father-in-law.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris said the bodies will be sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Jackson for autopsies.

Scott, the neighbor, has lived on that usually quiet street since 2000. The Kellys moved in about four years ago, but he had never met them.

“I never had no contact with them,” he said.

Henry Watson lives next to the house where the bodies were found. He was watching television when he heard gunshots.

“I heard two shots, then a pause, then I heard two more shots, then a pause again and I heard one more shot,” he said.

Watson moved to Wood Street — which connects East Cherokee and East Chickasaw streets — about five years ago. He helped Byron Kelly’s father rehab the house before the couple moved in. But in the time the young couple had lived there, Watson had never spoken to them.

“They didn’t never hardly ever come out,” he said.

Sunday afternoon, dozens of people sat on front stoops and stood behind yellow crime scene tape and watched investigators go in and out of the house.

Police cars with blue lights flashing lined the street and at least two dozen officers worked the scene. Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing, Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey and investigators with Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics assisted the police department. Mississippi Highway Patrol’s SWAT unit was called, but cancelled soon after.

“We are a law enforcement community,” Earls said. “If something happens and some of our neighboring law enforcement agencies realize that we have a serious issue or a serious problem they’re going to respond to assist us, as we will them. It’s to ensure that all the help that is needed is available.”

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Brookhaven Police Department at 601-833-2424.