The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what a spokesman called a suspected double homicide that was discovered at 6:30 a.m. Friday off Old Warren Road.
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.
Toward the end of the day, Woods said that no signs of forced entry were found at the site, so investigators believed at that stage of the investigation that the suspect may have been someone the victims knew. Woods said the initial investigation indicated the victims had likely been dead for no more than a day or two and that a welfare check prompted by Branch’s daughter because she hadn’t heard from him led to the discovery this morning.
Woods said investigators were still following leads, and there was no suspect or person-of-interest information to release at the end of the day Friday.
“Our investigators are actively investigating the deaths of Mr. Branch and Ms. Moncrief,” Woods said in the press release. “This investigation is ongoing and no other information is being released at this time.”
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.
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.