Sheriff’s Department working two cases that are years old
Published 9:02 am Thursday, April 9, 2015
The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department is actively working two cold cases.
The investigations division is focused on the Aug. 1999 murder of Lee Andrew Bester and the disappearance of Louis Kathman in July of 2012.
Bester was described by everyone the investigators spoke to as a hardworking man willing to help those in need.
Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said Bester’s murder case has been reviewed by a number of investigators and witnesses have been interviewed multiple times over the past 16 years. Each time investigators come to the same conclusion and witnesses share the same account of what they know about the stabbing death of Bester. Tucker said it’s unusual for a witness’ account to stay the same, especially after so much time has passed.
According to the case file, Bester was last seen on Aug. 15, 1999, but his body was not found until two days later on some property on Peters Road in the Whitesand community. Investigators examined his body and found Bester had suffered more than 20 wounds from a sharp object.
Due to the extent of the bleeding, DNA evidence collected from the scene could not find any recognizable profile other than that of the victim, Tucker said. In 2007 the department attempted to have the evidence tested again due to advancements in DNA testing, but those results were also inconclusive.
Tucker said the department recently sent another sample for DNA testing, and is currently awaiting the results.
The initial investigation established a suspect, Tillman Pittman who is now about 53-years-old. Tillman was initially arrested on capital murder charges on Nov. 19, 1999, but when the case was presented to the grand jury by the district attorney’s office, the jury felt more investigation was required before it could go to trial, Tucker said. Pittman was then released. While the department has worked every angle of the case and checked into every person of interest, Pittman is still a suspect, Tucker said.
The second case the department is actively working concerns the disappearance of Kathman, who was last seen in July of 2012.
Since that time the investigation has brought in cadaver dogs from surrounding areas to check places of interest, drained a pond based on a claim that his body was at the bottom and brought in graduate anthropology students from the University of Southern Mississippi to excavate areas where the cadaver dogs indicated remains could be buried.
None of those leads turned up any sign of Kathman’s whereabouts or his remains.
Currently the department is checking into a lead that an acquaintance currently living in Nevada may have information about Kathman.
While there’s not enough evidence to make an arrest at this point, the department’s investigators continue to work both cases as new information becomes available.
Tucker said everyone in the department feels an obligation to bring the true suspect in these crimes to justice.
“That’s our motivation, why we continue to work on these cases,” Tucker said.
If anyone has information that could help the department’s investigation, they are asked to call 601-403-2530 or 601-795-2241. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 601-799-CLUE (2583).