Investigators question: who killed Myrtis Pate?

By Janice Broach - bio | email

CLARKSDALE, MS (WMC-TV) - One year after a gruesome discovery in rural Coahoma County, Mississippi, investigators are wondering who killed Myrtis Pate.

Pate disappeared from her home in Clarksdale, Mississippi on April 11, 2009.  

Chief Greg Hoskins with the Clarksdale Police said they are still unable to solve the case.

"We know this is a tragedy and we're coming up on a year now and nothing has broke," Hoskins said.  "We still have not got information we need to solve this crime."

The search for Pate led investigators on a strange path.  After Pate disappeared, police had no idea what happened to her.  Almost two weeks after her disappearance, a farmer discovered her body in a remote area.

According to police, the 19-year-old mother had been strangled and was a victim of blunt force trauma to the head.

Police said Larry Williams, the family's handyman, appears to be the last known person who saw Pate alive.

Williams said Pate was outside her home sitting on the back of her car when a woman in a black SUV drove up.

"A car pulled up," Williams said.  "She got in the car and said 'I'll holler at you later.'"

Police considered it a lead in the case, but never found the black SUV.  No one knew who the woman inside the vehicle was.

Life then dealt a serious blow to the investigation.  Williams died of apparent natural causes.

Hoskins said Williams was not considered a suspect, but they think he knew something and was talking with investigators.

"We talked to him and was very much concerned as to her disappearing from home," Hoskins said.  "People usually don't disappear from home."

Hoskins said evidence of Pate's existence seemed to end at the home she shared with her mother, Lena Pate.

"I haven't done anything to my daughter, " Lena Pate said.  "Not from here."

In an interview with Lena Pate not long after her daughter disappeared, there was talk that she may have known what happened.

"They are saying awful things," Lena Pate said, "but I had nothing to do with my daughter leaving.  Nothing."

Lena Pate said her daughter left after she argued with her about not cleaning her room and talking on the phone too much.  She had her daughter's phone turned off that night.

When investigators questioned Lena Pate, they had her take a polygraph test.  The results have never been revealed.

After Myrtis Pate disappeared, investigators did a thorough search of the Pate home, even using luminol to test for blood.  They said Lena Pate gave them free reign of the house and they found nothing.

"We don't have enough evidence to arrest anyone at this point and the evidence is by far from being over," Hoskins said.  "Last known place was on Sixth Street, and that's where we started our investigation."

Lena Pate originally offered a reward for information in her daughter's case, but has since pulled the reward with no explanation.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.