Cold case solved with surprise confession from pastor

Monroe County sheriff says former drug addict, who is now a pastor, wanted to clear his conscience

MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – A three-year-old missing person case may be wrapped up after a surprise confession.

Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook has been in law enforcement for more than twenty years, and he’s seen a lot.  But Tuesday, was a first.

“James Eric Crisp walked into my office, of his own free will, and confessed to having killed Mr. Taylor,” Sheriff Crook said.

Forty eight hours later, 37-year-old James Eric Crisp was being led into Monroe County Justice Court for a bond hearing on one count of manslaughter for the death of 48-year-old Roger Loyd Taylor of Sulligent, Alabama..

According to the sheriff, Crisp said he killed Taylor on March 10, 2019, and disposed of the victim’s body.   Taylor’s truck was discovered on Blair Cemetery Road in Monroe County a couple of days after he was reported missing.  Searches since then have turned up no evidence, and the case went cold, until this week.

Crisp has prior arrests for drug-related charges, but during his time as a resident at a Christian discipleship program called “God’s House of Hope”, the sheriff says Crisp had a life-changing encounter.

“By his own testimony he got saved three years ago, was in a recovery center, we sent him there, he is now a teacher and preacher in that program,” Crook said.

Crisp spoke of his dramatic life change to WCBI’s Stephen Pimpo for a story on people who overcome drug addictions.

Several members of the God’s House of Hope ministry team spoke during Crisp’s bond hearing, vouching for the dramatic change they’ve seen in the former drug addict, who recently regained custody of his two children.

“We know God is a just God and He forgives, but we also have to take action for our responsibilities, but today we ask that God has mercy, and whatever steps we need to take for Eric to walk through this,” said Amy Coyle, of God’s House of Hope.

“As a believer, I hate it for the guy, in the physical realm,he has to deal with choices he made, but in the spiritual side, you are excited for the freedom he has found in doing this.  And then you hope there’s healing for the family through this process as well,” Sheriff Crook said.

The sheriff says Taylor’s family has been notified about the latest developments in the case, and he says while they’re glad the case appears to be solved, it’s still tough news to take.

In the meantime, Crisp is being held on a $150,000 bond in the Monroe County Jail.

Sheriff Crook said the investigation is ongoing and he did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.  Taylor’s remains have not been located.

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