“It isn’t so astonishing, the number of things that I can
remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren’t so.”
On July 16th, 1996, the bodies of four innocent people were discovered in a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi. Each victim had been murdered execution style—one or two bullets to the back of the head. The presence of live ammunition on the floor suggested that one of the killers was using a 380 pistol that jammed repeatedly.
Nine days later, July 25, 1996, the bodies of two innocent people were discovered in a pawn shop in Birmingham, Alabama. Each victim had been murdered execution style—one or two bullets to the back of the head. A surveillance camera revealed that the killer was wielding a 380 pistol that jammed repeatedly.
Winona, Mississippi lies three hours west of Birmingham on Highway 82. Steven McKenzie, the driver of the getaway car in the pawn shop murders, was arrested on August 1 in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. The killer, Marcus Presley (16) and his accomplice, Lasamuel Gamble (18) were arrested in Norfolk, Virginia on August 9, 1996 after two weeks on the run. That same day, Horace Wayne Miller, a lieutenant with the Mississippi Highway patrol, asked Norfolk officials to keep him apprised of their investigation.
Two weeks later, a picture of Marcus Presley, the shooter in the Birmingham murders, was included in a photo array shown to a witness in the Winona, Mississippi case.
On November 16, 2015, Marcus Presley signed an affidavit claiming that Lasamuel Gamble and Steven McKenzie (the driver of the getaway car) had been in Mississippi the day of the Winona murders and had returned with several hundred dollars in their pockets after claiming to have “hit a lick” (committed a crime).
A shoeprint in a pool of blood found in the Winona furniture store was found to be from a Grant Hill Fila shoe—the footwear Gamble, McKenzie (and just about every other young man in America) was wearing while in Mississippi.
Can Marcus Presley’s affidavit be trusted? Yes and no.
Courtroom testimony shows that Presley was the shooter in the pawn shop murders in Birmingham even though, prior to being shown video of the crime, he insisted that Gamble had been the gunman. If Gamble and McKenzie were in Mississippi the day of the Winona murders it’s likely that Presley was with them.
Between June 19th, 1996 and June 30th of that year, Presley was involved in five robberies at gunpoint. In the course of these crimes, one employee was shot in the leg and another in the back (both survived) and Presley was the shooter in both cases. Presley and Gamble did four of the June heists together and one crime was perpetrated by Presley alone. Although Presley was only sixteen, he seems to have been the driving force behind these crimes. Gamble never discharged his weapon.
Presley and Gamble had developed a simple modus operandi. Store employees were threatened with death and forced to lie on the floor. While Presley drove the action, Gamble kept his gun trained on the scene in case anyone tried to flee. After the second stick up, the two men argued about whether they should have killed the witness.
Evidence suggests that Marcus Presley was a psychopath who enjoyed random violence for its own sake.
Presley and Gamble made three runs to Boston during the summer of 1996: once after their June crime spree, once after the pawn shop murders and once immediately after the furniture store murders in Winona. Their pattern was to spend a week or so lying low before going on another rampage. The two men had family in both Boston and Norfolk.
If you are have been following the quadruple homicide in Winona, Mississippi, the Presley-Gamble connection may surprise you. In June of 2010, Curtis Flowers was sentenced to death for the murder of Bertha Tardy (the owner of the furniture store) Carmen Rigby (the business manager) and Bobo Stewart and Robert Golden (two recent hires). Flowers had worked three days at the Tardy furniture store but failed to return to work after the July 4th holiday.
District Attorney Doug Evans argues that Flowers, enraged with losing his job, stole a gun out of a parked car at the Angelica garment factory, cooled his heels at home for an hour or so, then marched to the furniture store with murder in his eye, did the foul deed, and raced home.
But how could a single person (especially a man like Curtis Flowers) dispatch four victims with a bullet to the back of the head? The crime had a random and senseless quality to it. It takes no imagination at all to imagine Marcus Presley committing a crime like that–we have the video from the pawn shop. (more…)