Friday, April 6, 2012

Vancleave, MS: Vancleave man charged with manslaughter in wife's death


Outside the Thames's home on Tanner Drive in Vancleave, it's a gorgeous spring day. However, the doors are locked, the blinds are pulled and the house stands empty because inside lies the scene of a violent death.

"We received a call last night, approximately 8:30 PM from the suspect, Don Thames, that he had just shot his wife," said the Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd.

When deputies arrived, they found 58 year old Thames standing on his porch. He was immediately taken into custody. When officers entered the home, they found his wife 60 year old Janet Thames dead from gunshot wounds.

"It was told to us by Mr. Thames, spontaneously, that she had a knife. They had gotten into a domestic dispute," explained Byrd. "But, you know, we have three rounds fired. So, I'm just really hesitant to think that we have a self defense here."

Byrd says that the couple had a history of domestic disputes, but that family members were still shocked at the shooting.

"We've had several calls from family members that couldn't understand why this happened," said Byrd.

Thames is charged with manslaughter in the heat of passion, which means that he acted out of anger. However, the Sheriff says if new evidence is found in the investigation to indicate otherwise, that the charge would change accordingly.

Byrd says situations of domestic dispute are some of the most dangerous an investigator can enter into because emotions are running high.

"It's a very very volatile situation. It's a very scary situation when you don't know what's going to happen from one moment to the next. So, officers have to be on their toes. They have to be well trained," said Byrd.

Thames is awaiting a bond hearing at the Jackson County Jail. Then the case will go before a grand jury. Byrd says the investigation is ongoing.

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