Harrison officers make arrest in 20-year-old murder case

Published 5:00 pm Friday, September 22, 2006

A 53-year-old Gulfport man faces a capital murder charge after new information was provided to Harrison County investigators in the death 20 years ago of a D’Iberville teenager.

Sheriff George H. Payne Jr. said Ricky Lane Rush was indicted by a county grand jury earlier this week and was arrested in Gulfport on Wednesday.

Robert Cook, 14, died in a mobile home fire June 1, 1986. Payne said the teenager was trapped inside the trailer, which had burglar bars. Cook’s mother and her boyfriend managed to escape the flames.

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Payne, who was not sheriff at the time, said the fire was ruled an accident at the time, which halted further investigation.

“This case was solved because of caring people who tried to right a wrong and felt an obligation to do the right thing,” Payne said, referring to witnesses who came forward.

Investigators Carl Rhodes and Joey Tracy received information in early May that implicated Rush in the teen’s death and indicated he set fire to the mobile home, said Payne. The sheriff said investigators spent several months conducting interviews and researching the case until they obtained enough evidence to present the case to a grand jury.

Rush was arrested late Wednesday at his FEMA trailer on Broad Avenue in Gulfport. He was being held without bond at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center pending arraignment, authorities said.