The recent confessions of a Shreveport man to six murders has sparked renewed interest in other 'cold cases' in the Ark-La-Tex. So far, 38-year old Eric Mickelson is only talking about two cases: Those involving last week's murder of 86-year old Charles Martin and the 11-year old disappearance of Kristi O'Pry.
The sheer number of missing people is overwhelming when seen one after another, especially when you consider all the families affected. Such was the case with 19-year old Kayla Mayberry back in 1994. But, unlike the other cases, hunters found her remains two weeks later. What they didn't find was the killer.
Jason Scott, a former Shreveport bouncer told KSLA News 12, "so, when I heard that Mickelson had probably cut-up somebody back in the day, some murder he said he committed, I thought 'well, maybe he might have done Kayla Mayberry.'"
Investigators tell us Mickelson confessed to killing O'Pry while also confessing to killing Martin. Since O'Pry disappeared two years after Mayberry's murder, Scott called us recalling how he saw Mayberry just before she vanished outside the club where he worked. "Kayla Mayberry walks up with an albino snake around her neck. 'Can I come in, too?'"
Scott said while they turned Mayberry away from his place, she made quite an impression on the bar scene. "She looked like the snake; beautiful. She was a good looking woman with a good lookin' snake. You're like, 'wow, who's got a five foot albino python.'"
Scott said maybe that's why that vivid memory re-surfaced after reports of Mickelson's confessions. But that alone won't be enough to solve such cold cases according to Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche. "You have to have more in evidence than just a confession in order to go forward in a murder case."
Scott said police do a great job 'after' a crime, "but it takes the citizens, everybody to keep their eyes and ears open and to realize you're possibly the next victim."
Mickelson will likely have an attorney by next week. A judge appointed the state's indigent defense system to represent Mickelson. He'll find out next Wednesday which attorney will get the case. Carmouche also said there's very little chance both the Martin and O'Pry cases would be tried together because of a common defense argument that, "if there's not enough evidence in either one, the fact that there are two (murders) that he's charged with, then the jury might be more inclined to convict."
Carmouche added that if Mickelson is convicted of first degree murder then evidence connected with O'Pry's case, including the confession, could be used in the penalty phase in deciding between life or death.
A grand jury will likely not hear the case against Mickelson until September and a trial in the Martin case could be a year away, according to Carmouche.
Story by Jeff Ferrell