Columbus police and the sheriff’s departments in Lowndes County and Pickens County, Ala. have launched a homicide investigation after a man with a history of violence dating back almost 20 years is identified as the man found dead Sunday morning in Pickens County.
The family of 52-year-old Henry Lee Easley identified his picture today. The family had filed a missing person’s report Wednesday.
According to Columbus Police, Easley attended a wedding Saturday evening in Caledonia and after the wedding, was dropped off in Columbus by a family member.
Investigators are asking Anyone with information on Easley’s death or anyone who saw him after 8 p.m. Sept. 16 is asked to call the Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers at 1-800-530-7151 or Columbus Police Department.
Prior to his identification, Pickens County authorities said the man had been shot several times and dumped in a yard on County Road 53 just across the Pickens County line from Lowndes County less than a quarter mile from Highway 82.
Investigators said it appeared he’d been shot somewhere else and dumped in Pickens County.
Easley, who only had an eighth-grade education and struggled with alcohol and drug issues according to court records, has an arrest record dating back to 2002.
He was arrested on robbery charges following a Dec. 16, 2002 incident where he pushed Marti Kauffman in the chest, knocking her to the ground, and stealing her purse. On May 27, 2003, he pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to 12 years.
Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens ordered him to get alcohol and drug treatment while in prison, according to court records.
In 2011, he was wanted for aggravated assault for severely beating Arthur Williams Jr. in the head with a brick the Aug. 16, 2011. He fled the area and six weeks later was arrested in Okaloosa County, Fla. for stronged-armed robbery after he held up a woman pumping gas at a convenience store. According to police reports in that case, on Sept. 21, 2011, the woman was pumping gas when Easley walked up to her, covered her mouth with his hand and demanded her wallet. She gave him cash and her cell phone and he then ordered her to drive away. Deputies called in a K-9 unit and they spotted a man matching the description given by the victim riding a bike. During a brief chase they saw the man, later identified as Easley, throw down the victim’s cell phone, which was recovered. He also had her cash in his pocket.
On Aug. 23, 2016, Easley was sentenced in Lowndes County to 20 years on the aggravated assault case by that was suspended to the 13 months he’d been in jail after being brought to Lowndes County from Florida.
He also was fined $500 and ordered to serve five years on post-release supervision which was still in effect at the time of his death.
“It’s an unfortunate end for a man who sometimes lived an unfortunate lifestyle. I hope they catch the people who did this,” said Columbus attorney Donna Smith, who represented Easley as public defender in both his 2003 case and the more recent case.
Easley, who had lived in several places in Columbus according to court records, was living with a sister in West Point, authorities said.
He is survived by three brothers and a sister and four children, according to court records.
Investigators with Columbus Police and Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office have been working with Pickens County since Sunday to identify the body.
Now, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police Dept., Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, West Point Police Department, Lowndes County Coroner, Pickens County Coroner, 24th Judicial Circuit District Attorney in Alabama, and the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office have all been notified of the investigation and are working together on this case, according to a Columbus Police press release.