Deputies say they have solved a decade-old cold case, and the alleged murderer is already in jail for an unrelated killing.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina announced on Monday that they obtained a murder warrant against Jeffery Ray Phillips, 38. Authorities claim he’s the person who killed Allison Southerland-Craine, 24.
The victim was found the night of Aug. 7, 2009 under a bridge near Lakeside Road in the city of Greenville, authorities said. She had been beaten to death. The brutal crime presented a lack of leads. The case went cold. That changed after Phillips landed on investigators’ radar.
Authorities cited cell phone records and evidence of a financial dispute.
“During the course of the investigation, investigators learned that Phillips was a frequent cab driver for Allison, and before her killing, she had expressed frustration that Phillips owed her money,” deputies wrote. “Although the motive is still under investigation, investigators tied Phillips to the murder after locating cell phone records, which led to his arrest.”
Sheriff Hobart Lewis credited the cold case unit with the new charge.
“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,” he said. “It is hard enough to lose someone you love, but having unanswered questions and their case go cold elevates the level of difficulty. I am so blessed to work alongside these dedicated investigators who work tirelessly in their pursuit of justice. 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.”
Phillips is already locked up in Sullivan County, Tennessee, because he allegedly beat roommate Timothy France, 28, to death using a rock, garden hoe, and a sink pedestal in August 2017, according to Kingsport Times-News. Authorities there described a botched cover-up attempt. He tied the man’s legs together using a towel, which cops suggested was for dragging away the victim’s remains. Phillips ultimately left the body in a wooded area behind their mobile home.
The body was found; cops arrived. Phillips stepped out of the residence wearing just a bath towel while cops were investigating, officials said. He “denied any knowledge of the deceased,” said he had to go back inside to prepare for work, then stepped out of the home again. Officers claimed to see blood on his shoes and fresh scratches on his hands. According to officials, Phillips let them search the home. They said they found a bloody shirt and blood in the bathroom inside.
Phillips allegedly said he was mad that France gave meth to Phillips’ girlfriend. In this account, he lured France outside by saying he needed help taking down a hammock, but he claimed to cops that he blacked out from anger and could not remember the rest.
[Booking photo via Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office]
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