By Paul Keane
The Wayne County News
Bond was set at $5 million for a man charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife.
Eric Scott Holifield, 47, of Spring Street in Waynesboro, made his initial appearance before Justice Court Judge Charles Chapman Monday morning to be arraigned on a charge of first degree murder in the death of Kimberly Nanette Holifield, age 47.
She had been missing since Saturday, July 18, and the Waynesboro Police Department was working the missing person case. On Thursday, July 23, human remains were found on Tokio-Frost Bridge Road, and it was believed to be her remains. The body was transported to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Pearl, and a positive identification has not been obtained as the lab said it could be as long as four weeks before identification and cause of death could be determined due to backlogs and manpower shortages at the lab.
WPD Investigations Commander Lieutenant Don Hopkins said numerous people worked both the missing person and the human remains cases, and things came together quickly.
“Based on information provided to us by family members and other individuals, along with evidence that was turned in and also recovered at the scene last week, we were able to build this case,” Hopkins said, adding that details on information and evidence was not being released due to the case being an ongoing investigation. “We have items that have been identified as being hers, and we have determined that the body was a white female that fit Mrs. Holifield’s height and size.”
Hopkins said that Officer Courtney McGrew responded to the initial missing person call, with Officer Geoff Paton assisting. Investigator Jerome Jackson then began the investigation, with Wayne County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Don Rogers assisting. Hopkins has been and remains the lead investigator on the case.
During Monday’s preliminary hearing, Eric Holifield said he would hire his own attorney and that he was requesting a preliminary hearing, which must occur within 14 days. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
The suspect said he didn’t have any comment for the court, but did admit to having some DUI and possession of marijuana charges placed on him “years and years ago.”
“We did a criminal check on him and found where he was taken into custody on an aggravated choking incident in North Carolina,” Hopkins told Judge Chapman.
“That wasn’t me,” Holifield said. “There are other Eric Holifields, and it must have been one of them. I’ve been to North Carolina but have never been in trouble there.”
The human remains found last week were in an advanced state of decomposition, Hopkins said at the time, making it difficult to identify the person. Further investigation led to the conclusion that it was the missing woman.
“Friday, we learned of suspicious activity being conducted by the suspect,” Hopkins said. “He tried to give an item with blood and hair on it to another person, who alerted us to the situation.
“The family have also been a great help in this case, even with all they are going through right now. They have been very straight forward and forthcoming and have helped us any way possible.”
Hopkins said the Crime Lab should have its report and findings completed in time for the case to be presented to the next available session of the Wayne County Grand Jury, which should be near the end of the year or the first of 2021. The upcoming session is took close for the case to be presented then.
Hopkins said the suspect has been calm throughout the entire process. During Monday’s initial appearance, he said he didn’t understand some of the terms being used but appeared to be calm throughout the process.
“When we brought him in for an interview, he did not seem surprised, anxious nor nervous,” Hopkins said. “We tried to interview him but he requested an attorney and so we ended the interview.”
Hopkins said the couple had been married for about 10 years, and that a vehicle seized in the case has been sent to the Crime Lab for processing.
“We feel we have the right suspect and the right victim,” Hopkins said. “One thing I would like to point out is that our victim has a family that is going through a very hard time and is suffering.
“She has children, grandchildren, sisters and other family members. We ask that everyone in the community stand by this family during this difficult time.”
By Paul Keane