More Information On Smith's First Homicide Of 2005 - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/4/05-Smith County

More Information On Smith's First Homicide Of 2005

The man who was found dead yesterday in Smith County knew a lot of people at the filling stations just up the road from where he was found.

Investigators say 73 year old, James Edward Willis, Junior, lived in the abandoned Red Devil Truck Wash off I-20 on Joy Wright Road.

Pastor Lemon Keel regularly met up with Willis for coffee. He told KLTV 7 news today, Willis got an engineering degree from Texas A&M University and was a Lieutenant co- pilot in the Air Force.

He also says, a few years ago, Willis dropped out of sight for a while and was a different man when he came back.

"He had been probably drinking too much when we first met him, and he was gone, whether he went to rehab we don't know. He talked like he had a lot of money but I figure if he was in one of these places, maybe he was talking about building his airports and doing all this, somebody may have heard him and figured he had a lot and got out and came to find him," Lemon Keel, Pastor of Oakdale Church of Christ.

Preliminary autopsy reports for Willis show the cause of death to be multiple cutting wounds and skull fractures.

Reporting: Braid Sharp

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