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Man Awaiting Trial For Roommate’s Violent Beating Death Charged With Unrelated 2009 Murder

Authorities allege Jeffery Phillips murdered Allison Southerland-Craine and left her body under a bridge in 2009.

By Jax Miller
Jeffery Ray Phillips Pd

A man awaiting trial for his roommate’s violent death has now been charged with the 2009 murder of a woman found under a bridge.

Jeffery Ray Phillips, 38, is accused of killing Allison Southerland-Craine, 24, in Greenville, South Carolina, according to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities say Craine’s body was discovered under a bridge near Lakeside Road at around 8:40 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2009. Local news outlets reported a married couple stumbled upon her nude body in a creek when looking for wildlife.

Craine died from multiple blunt force trauma injuries, authorities stated.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office obtained a murder warrant for Phillips, who is currently incarcerated at the Sullivan County Jail in Tennessee, where he awaits trial for an unrelated 2017 murder.

“This is a prime example of the vision we had for the unit coming to life, to bring resolve and justice for the family and friends who have tragically lost their loved ones,” said Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis. “It is hard enough to lose someone you love, but having unanswered questions and their case go cold elevates the level of difficulty.”

Authorities said a motive for Craine’s murder was still under investigation but noted Phillips was a frequent cab driver in the area and that Craine had “expressed frustration that Phillips owed her money.” Investigators located cell phone records, which they allege ultimately tied him to the murder.

In 2017, Phillips was arrested in Tennessee for the murder of his roommate, 28-year-old Timothy France, according to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged one day after officers with the Bluff City Police Department responded to calls of a suspected prowler at a mobile home park on Bluff City Highway.

France was found dead behind their home, having suffered severe blunt force trauma to the head and two wounds to his back, with “one appearing to be a stab wound.”

Phillips allegedly used a rock, garden hoe, and sink pedestal to beat France to death when he became angry with the victim for selling methamphetamines to Phillips’ girlfriend, the Kingsport Times-News reported. Phillips allegedly tied France’s legs with a towel and dragged him from the trailer, according to an affidavit filed with General Sessions Court.

When police arrived at the crime scene, Phillips exited the trailer wearing only a bath towel, the Times-News reported. Before going back inside, Phillips denied having any knowledge of the murder and told authorities he needed to get dressed for work. When Phillips reappeared, officers said they saw blood on his shoes.

In a later interview with police, Phillips allegedly stated he lured France outside, claiming he needed his help assembling a hammock. Phillips allegedly said he remembered punching France in the face before he “blacked out due to his anger and couldn’t remember what happened.”

For France’s murder, Phillips was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, according to Sullivan County authorities. He was booked into the Sullivan County Jail and held without bond.

Greenville County Sheriff Lewis said Phillips’ arrest for Allison Southerland-Craine’s murder marks their fifth solved cold case since their Cold Case Unit commenced in August 2020.

“I am so blessed to work alongside these dedicated investigators who work tirelessly in their pursuit of justice,” said Lewis. “We have so much more work to do, but this is another tremendous step in our agency’s pursuit of unwavering commitment to solving cold case homicides.

Lewis said there were about 90 active cold cases in their county dating back to 1967. It was not made clear if authorities in South Carolina planned on extraditing Phillips from Tennessee to face charges. Calls to the Greenville County Sheriff's Office by Oxygen.com were not immediately returned. 

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