Arrest made in double homicide


An arrest has been made in a double homicide discovered Friday morning on Cowboy Drive.

William Cody Childress, 21, who is from Mississippi, was booked into the Jefferson County jail at 6:48 a.m. Saturday on two counts of capital murder. No bond has been set.

Anthony Branch, 62, and Deborah Moncrief, 58, were found in the 6300 block of Cowboy Drive, said JCSO spokesman Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr. in a press release Friday. The location is off Old Warren Road, southeast of the Pine Bluff city limits.

Major Lafayette Woods Jr. said Saturday that Childress was located in another county and brought back Friday night to Jefferson County, where he was interviewed. He is the fiancee of Jessica Moncrief, 23, who is the niece of Deborah Moncrief, and following that interview, Childress led investigators to the weapon believed used in the double homicide, Woods said.

“It is believed that Childress is the sole participant in the murders and the motive appears to have been over money,” Woods said in a press release Saturday morning. “It definitely was not random or an accident.”

The victims were discovered because of a welfare check prompted by Branch’s daughter, who had not heard from him, Woods said Friday.

Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley pronounced Branch dead at 7:08 a.m. and Moncrief dead at 7:10 a.m. and said both bodies would be sent to the state crime laboratory Saturday for autopsies.

On Saturday, Woods said both Branch and Moncrief were shot to death and investigators believe the incident occurred either Wednesday or Thursday.

He said Jessica Moncrief was also interviewed Friday and at this point, investigators do not believe she was involved in the crime.

Woods said the investigation into the double homicide is continuing.

The double slaying was the first outside the Pine Bluff city limits since Oct. 14, 2013, when Tabius Love was killed inside a camper trailer on Cornerstone Road in the Altheimer area. Billy Nutt, 75, was arrested and, following a jury trial this year, was found not guilty of all charges.

The last double homicide in the county was on Jan. 19, 2013, at a house at 9704 Huntley Trail.

Mendi Catherine Bell, 37, was found in an automobile about a block from the house and was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead of multiple stab wounds.

When an autopsy was performed, the state medical examiner determined that she had been pregnant.

George Cage, then 31, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Bell and one count of capital murder in the death of the unborn infant.

Countywide, there have been 10 homicides so far this year, with eight of them in Pine Bluff. At this time a year ago, there were 11 homicides, with nine of them in Pine Bluff.