Libertarian mayoral candidate for Meridian has been shot to death in the woods outside of his home, according to Mississippi’s local paper The Clarion Ledger, and there is a bit of confusion regarding the circumstances. See, not long ago, Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing law enforcement officials who had advised him to withdraw because of death threats–there is no evidence of this suggestion, or indication of what law enforcement officer or official he may be referring to. Meridian is about three hours southeast of where I live (I’m right at the Mississippi/Tennessee border, so generally am more a Memphisian than a Mississippian), but I supported his candidacy nonetheless. Even though he supported Johnson/Weld–at the local, mayoral level that isn’t a big enough deal for me to refuse to support a candidate. Only in the national spotlight would that be a point of concern for me. While it did bother me that he never liked, replied to, or shared anything I wrote to him, I understand why, and held no grudge against him for it–being a libertarian in Mississippi is hard enough without having an openly trans ally.
C’est la vie.
But now he’s dead.
Here are the facts as we know them:
- Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing threats to his safety and the advice of unknown law enforcement.
- Mariner Durant was found shot to death in the woods outside of his home, shortly thereafter.
- Local police are ruling it a suicide, though are bringing in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
Most people seem to take the local police’s word for it that it’s a suicide, and that Mariner likely had some sort of psychosis or paranoia where these threats were imagined, and that this psychosis ultimately led to his suicide. That’s certainly a valid interpretation, and we’ll probably never know.
Now let me tell you some stuff about Mississippi.
Several years ago, we had a murder (on a street where one of my best friends lives) occur that was so barbaric and horrific that it made national news. This 18 year old girl was forced to imbibe lighter fluid (or gasoline), and was burned alive. All evidence suggests that she was with someone she knew and trusted, and the last visible sign of her was at a gas station where she bought gasoline and showed no signs of distress, and the other, unidentified person, was in the car. You may remember this, because it was truly a horrific crime.
Now let me tell you some other stuff that the national media missed.
The girl’s father is a police officer who served time in prison for cooking and selling methamphetamine before becoming a cop. Read that sentence again, because nothing shows how strongly filial attachments can pull the strings of people in Mississippi than the idea that a former meth dealer came out of prison and became a police officer.
Now let me tell you more stuff the national media missed.
The girl was a drug-addict and prostitute (when she needed the drugs or the money to buy the drugs), and had recently stolen $400 from a man by selling him fake pills. I used to be addicted to pain killers myself. I know that game well. One of the people I bought pills from was found several years ago in a ditch, with a bullet in his head, and neither I nor my father have any doubt: he screwed over the wrong person. It only takes once. And he screwed me over repeatedly*. Now, when you’re a drug addict, that won’t keep you from going back to them if you can’t find anyone else. My dad and I once took him to a trailer park around midnight, and he wanted us to give him $100 while he ran in to get the pills for us. We knew better than to do that. We’d give him the money, and we wouldn’t hear from him for months.
Yet there’s more to this “person who was robbed for $400” than most people know. For one, he’s a known arsonist, and helped burn down a building for its owner to collect the insurance money. Everyone around knows and knew it was arson, and knows exactly who did it–even the police. But this person… This person is above the law. This person has very high connections in politics extending at least to the governor of the state. This person has also been involved in at least one murder.
So let’s have a recap.
18 or 19 year old girl (I don’t remember her name) who is a drug addict and hooker and whose father is a cop who went to prison for cooking and selling meth before becoming a police officer was found murdered in one of the most awful ways imaginable shortly after stealing $400 from a known arsonist and person known to be “above the law.” Additionally, many, many people suspected that the girl was an informant–wouldn’t you?–and I know damned well that this accusation is often enough to get you killed. If you do heroin and your dealer thinks you’re an informant, he’ll lace your next batch, you’ll die, and no one will ever know it happened. There are few things as lethal as being accused of being an informant.
Oh, we need to also mention that the girl’s parents were racist and that she had a history of dating black men, often to the point that she’d been kicked out on several occasions and ended up living with her black boyfriends and their families. This isn’t a thing in and of itself, but it’s something to consider about the girl’s parents. Let’s see… What else…? There are so many Sleeping Dogs in this story that it’s hard to remember them all, and I followed it very closely–like I said, one of my best friends lives on the street that she was murdered on. This happened like fifteen minutes from where I live.
How does this story end? It doesn’t. Eventually, the murder was “solved!” rather innocuously last year–or the year before–when a seemingly random black guy who was already serving time in Louisiana was pinpointed as the murderer, despite his name never having been mentioned before or since in any context related to the girl. Because the Internet Detectives went to work, man. They dug up all her ex-boyfriends, harassed them on Facebook, and all kinds of shit. This dude’s name never got mentioned. No news article, no Internet Detective, no whisper among the community…
You know what the whispers around the community were?
Everyone knew who did it, but no one was going to say it. “They went too far,” was what people said. “They went too far with what they did.” Everyone knew who, and everyone knew why. But, if you knew, would you talk, knowing that everyone else knew already, and knowing what had happened to the girl?
So the sleeping dog sleeps.
I know of a family who lives on the edge between two counties with a similar “above the law” status. No one touches them, no matter how horrific their actions have been. They’ve been known to openly torture and murder dogs and cats, tying them to trees and to four-wheelers, and quartering them in a more Modern American way. The sheriffs know about this. They know about the allegations of rape, of people going missing, of child abuse. They know the property extends back mile after mile of woods and empty tankers that contain God-knows-what, and they know there may very well be victims in those tankers screaming right now. But County A says they’re in County B, and County B says they’re in County A. So no one does anything about the crimes alleged, much less known.
I don’t know what happened to Mariner Durant. I have no idea if he has a history of paranoid or schizophrenic behavior, but, if he does, this is the first anyone will have heard about it (which wouldn’t really be the case, since they’d have used that against him in the mayoral race, but, hey, let’s forget that for the moment).
But I do know that Mississippi has lots and lots of sleeping dogs. And if he posed a threat of accidentally or purposely waking one of them, then it’s not at all beyond belief that he’d have been killed for it, whether he withdrew from the race or not. Once you threaten one of those dogs, that’s often all it takes, even if you back down.
Just ask the man who went to prison for cooking and selling meth and then became a cop.
Regardless, it sucks that this libertarian candidate is dead, and I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish he hadn’t withdrawn, and I wish he had won the election. I wish there weren’t so very many things wrong in Mississippi.
* That sounds freaking awful. My point is that he had a known history of screwing people over. He was found dead long after I got out of that game.