Trial over slain couple stored in freezer begins next week

Published 7:50 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jury selection is set to begin next week in the trial of a woman accused in the slayings of two Hattiesburg residents whose bodies were found in a freezer in Kansas.

Lisa Chamberlin is accused of the March 2004 deaths of Vernon Hulett, 34, and his 37-year-old girlfriend, Linda Heintzelman.

“We’re seeking the death penalty,” said Forrest County District Attorney Jon Mark Weathers.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Roger Gillett also faces the same capital murder charge as Chamberlin. His trial date is to be set during a hearing Friday.

Hulett and Gillett were cousins, and family members have said the murders occurred after Hulett and his girlfriend found out Gillett and Chamberlin allegedly were operating a methamphetamine lab in Kansas.

The victims’ bodies were found on March 29, 2004, when Kansas authorities searched an abandoned farm house for drugs near Luray, Kan. The farm is owned by Roger Gillett’s father.

Hattiesburg police said one of the victims was decapitated, and both bodies had their arms removed.

Judges routinely move capital murder cases from the county in which the crimes allegedly occur because of the possibility of pretrial publicity influencing prospective jurors. Instead of moving the trial, Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich moved jury selection to Vicksburg.

A jury of 12 men and women and two alternates will be brought back to Hattiesburg to hear the case.

There were no eyewitnesses to tell the jury what happened to Hulett and Heintzelman.

“Unfortunately, there was no one in the house other than the two deceased,” Weathers said.

Physical evidence, testimony from investigators and witnesses who can link Chamberlin to the victims will convince the jury to convict her, he said.

“We feel very good about the case,” he said.