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"Gulf Coast Casanova" Killed 83-Year-Old Businessman: "He Definitely Suffered"

Maurice Colly, a beloved community elder, died by asphyxiation. He also suffered a broken neck and ribs and contusions.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On March 8, 2012, police in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi made a welfare check at the home of 83-year-old Maurice Colly, a churchgoing businessman with deep local roots. 

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He’d been unresponsive to calls and a friend expressed concern. Colly’s car was parked in the garage. When police popped the trunk his body was found inside it, according to case documents

“His head was wrapped up in plastic. He had several abrasions on his elbows and his hands were bound,” now-retired Det. Gary Hudgens, of the Bay St. Louis Police Dept., told Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

Evidence was collected at the scene, witnesses were interviewed, and DNA swabs were taken inside the car. Among the evidence, were shoe prints lifted off plastic that was laid underneath the body, as well as fingerprints from the inside driver’s door handle of the victim's car.

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Police observed that items from a display case in Colly’s home appeared to be missing based on dust patterns, while an uneaten bowl of oatmeal was found in the kitchen. 

At the police station, detectives interviewed the friend who’d requested the welfare check. She was quickly cleared as a suspect. 

Possible Suspects Identified

Detectives canvassed Colly’s neighborhood. An apartment complex next door provided an early potential lead. A couple “had violated their lease and had left some time in the week prior,” said Hudgens.

Upon running the criminal history, police found that the man had a prior conviction for attempted murder and his girlfriend had a record of financial fraud, according to Sins of the South.

“They looked very suspicious,” said Wes Muller, a Bay St. Louis journalist.

Bank security camera yields leads

Maurice Colly featured on Sins Of The South Episode 103

Investigators determined that around the time of the homicide “there had been substantial activity on [Colly’s] bank accounts,” said Hudgens. 

A security camera caught an unidentified individual withdrawing money from Colly’s account at a bank ATM only hours after his body had been found by police. 

“The visor was obscuring the individual's face,” said Hudgens. The license plate couldn’t be seen, but the car was plainly visible as a silver Honda Accord.

Arrest warrant obtained for suspect couple

The lead investigator on the case secured arrest warrants for the couple who’d broken their lease. Police departments throughout the south were on the lookout. 

Less than a week after the discovery of Colly’s body, the suspects were taken into custody in Louisiana. The lead Bay St. Louis investigator went there to interview them, at which point they admitted breaking their lease. However, they claimed they’d planned to return home to Louisiana long before the murder. The timing was coincidental. 

The couple’s DNA wasn't a match for samples from the car. Their shoe prints were also not a match. 

"They had no involvement in the case,” said Hudgens. “They were released without charge.”

The pursuit of the wrong suspects had squandered a week and put the investigation back at square one. The Bay St. Louis Police Department fired the lead detective, according to Sins of the South

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Maurice Colly Murder Case Gets Fresh Look

Detectives Find the Body of Maurice Colly Bound and Gagged in Car

As Hudgens became the new lead investigator, the autopsy provided clues to Colly’s death

Colly suffered "a broken neck, several broken ribs, contusions to his head," said Hudgens. "The primary cause of death was asphyxiation."

The report determined that Colly had been killed approximately 48 hours before the body was found. 

“He definitely suffered before he died,” said the victim’s nephew, Wally Colly. “It was shocking to read what was in that report.”

Hudgens reinterviewed all of the witnesses. He learned from Colly’s neighbor that there’d been a noisy commotion prior to finding the body. 

“It appeared that the suspect was still in his apartment,” said Hudgens.

Colly’s close friend who requested the welfare visit recalled observing that Federal Express had tried to deliver a package when she went to check on him. Inside the box was a rare coin. Based on when the valuable was ordered, they determined that the person who ordered it was most likely the killer.

Six weeks into the investigation, the case stalled. At this time detectives released the house back to Colly’s relatives who were selling the house.

Glen Davis emerges as prime suspect

Wally Colly observed that valuables from his uncle’s collections including plates and silverware were missing. He also found a Kmart bag with gloves and cleaning supplies in it, along with a receipt dated after the murder.

With help from a Kmart manager, security footage, and a public tip line, police identified Glen Davis as the person who bought the merchandise. 

“He had a very extensive criminal history on him,” said Hudgens. “Burglaries, thefts, and escapes. 

Davis had worked for Colly, mowing the lawn for months before the murder. He was fired after he damaged a lawn statue and refused to pay for it. 

Davis was a ladies man who lived “like a transient,” said Hudgens. “He pretty much just went from lady to lady. He was very good at manipulating people into giving him what he wanted.”

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Multistate Manhunt for Glen Davis

As investigators sought to apprehend Davis, a tip came in from a woman who said she’d been with Davis at the time of the homicide on March 8.

The witness noted “that he had a lot more money than he would normally have,” said Hudgens.

Investigators also learned that Davis had borrowed the woman’s car — a silver Honda Accord, the same make that was captured on the ATM security camera.

To track down Davis, investigators enlisted the FBI, U.S. Marshals, and America’s Most Wanted

The TV series “dubbed him the Gulf Coast Casanova,” said Muller. The case that began in Mississippi would lead 800 miles away from the scene of the crime. On May 5, 2012, detectives determined from Davis’ cell phone activity that he was in his home state of Michigan. 

Investigators interviewed Davis’ father there. He handed over a pair of his son’s shoes, which were determined to match the tread prints found on the plastic at the crime scene.

Glen Davis captured and tried for murder

Glen Davis featured on Sins Of The South episode 103

On June 12, Michigan police received a call about a suspicious bag found in a resident’s backyard. Inside the bag investigators found SD cards with pictures of Colly and items from Colly’s home on them. Additionally, a police badge and two handguns were in the bag.

We realized that Davis might be a lot more desperate and dangerous than we first thought,” said Hudgens.

While Davis eluded capture, the silver Honda was found parked behind a Grand Rapids apartment complex. Items from Colly’s home were found in the vehicle, which was processed for forensic evidence.

On August 5, 2012, just days after the car was found, a Crime Stoppers tip came in. Investigators learned that Davis would be meeting a woman at a fast food restaurant and that he’d be on a bicycle.

Officers staked out the area. “We knew that he'd probably be in some sort of disguise with a wig,” said Brandyn Huegel, Walker, MI Police Department. After being on the run for five months, Davis was finally caught.

Davis was brought back to Mississippi and charged with murder and grand larceny. Davis pleaded not guilty.

The trial began in August 2015. While the motive for the murder remains a mystery, said Hudgens, “there was never any evidence in this case that led to anybody else other than Glen Davis.”  

At the end of a six-day trial and three-year investigation, Davis was found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

To learn more about the “Murder on the Gulf Coast” case, watch Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

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