Two Suspects Arrested in Kentucky for Smith County Man's Murder - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/11/02 - Tyler

Two Suspects Arrested in Kentucky for Smith County Man's Murder

  Michelle and Phillip Ricketson can't believe Jeff Joplin's on-again off-again girlfriend, Heather Mizer is behind bars for his murder, along with what Smith County Sheriff's call her new boyfriend, Sean Willhelm.

  "To find out that it was his girlfriend supposed to be his girlfriend to do it allegedly that makes it even worse," says Michelle Ricketson. "To think that you're in the same house with this person."

  The couple calls Joplin's and Mizer's a volatile relationship, but they never thought it could end in murder. They say Jeff was the friend everyone turned to and that he would always avoid confrontation at any cost.

  "If it were over money Jeff would have said take whatever you want. Take my car if you want to. He just would have wanted to be left alone," says Michelle.

  But it was a violent death for Joplin. Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith believes Mizer, who once worked with the victim at Time Out, and Willhelm engaged in a major struggle with Joplin.

"We have found that through the preliminaries that the body has a stab wound in the back," says Sheriff Smith. "And think we may have that piece of evidence. The body also has severe trauma to the head."

  Investigators also collected key pieces evidence away from the murder scene, including a computer, possible murder weapons, and a note allegedly written by Willhelm describing his intention to kill Joplin.

  "Well, in almost all homicides there are three factors. Money, sex and drugs. This one has at least one involved, maybe all three," says Sheriff Smith.

  For friends, nothing can explain why such a well-liked man was murdered.

  "Who ever they found to do this and is convicted of it, I can say it now and I can say it then I would like the death penalty for who ever did this because Jeff did not deserve for this to happen at all," says Phillip Ricketson.

  Smith County detectives will head to Paducah Saturday to take statements from Mizer and Willhelm about Joplin's murder. And there could be even more arrests next week in the Joplin murder investigation.

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