A Mississippi man who was sentenced to serve two life sentences without the possibility of parole after killing his father and stepmother is expected to be released from prison in less than a month.
In 2001, James Williams III of Rankin County was arrested for the murders of James Williams, Jr., 53, and Cindy Lassiter Mangum Williams, 47.
According to evidence presented in court, Williams – who was just three months away from turning 18 at the time of the murders – shot his father nine times before shooting his stepmother in the face. Williams then brought Adam White, 15, to the scene of the incident, threatening to shoot White if he did not help dispose of the bodies. The two teenagers then transported the bodies to a wooded area near Shiloh Park in Brandon in trash bags containing Rubbermaid containers.
Williams and White were taken in for questioning by police, with White telling officials the location of the bodies one week after the murders.
During initial court hearings, Williams’ motive was said to be his discovery of the family’s large inheritance, estimated at nearly $1 million in 2001. Family members have also stated that Williams was informed that his father and stepmother would be inheriting his grandmother’s estate several months before the murders occurred.
Additional evidence presented in court showed that Williams had attempted to kill his father and stepmother with rat poison before using a gun.
In 2012, after Williams had been incarcerated for eight years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that any sentencing of individuals under 18 to life without parole is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, giving Williams a chance to be eligible for parole. As a result, the Mississippi Parole Board approved Williams for parole earlier this month.
The letter sent to Williams’ family – all of which are against his release – states that the board “believes Offender James Williams is able to be a law-abiding citizen and that parole supervision will be more beneficial than further incarceration.”
Williams’ stepbrother, Zeno Mangum, explained during an interview on The Gallo Show Tuesday morning that the decision from the parole board came less than a year after members informed him and other family members that Williams would never be granted parole.
“Multiple members of the parole board during that hearing told [us] he would never get out,” Mangum said. “It’s mine and my family’s hope that this reaches the governor and either he can overturn the decision of the hearts of the parole board change.”
Mangum added that the decision came after the family missed a recent hearing earlier this month, even though him and others claim to have never received a notification on the meeting. Part of the parole board’s decision is also reportedly due to Williams’ undergoing of a “moral rehabilitation” through his attainment of a GED and his work as a Christian minister.
“What I’ve been told is since we missed one hearing…that opened the door for him to be released. Also, supposedly, he has completed some kind of in-prison rehabilitation ministry program and that may be part of the reason why he’s up for parole,” Mangum explained.
Mangum also explained that, in his opinion, if Williams were truly rehabilitated, he would have contacted his family and attempted to make amends.
“James Williams III is a cold-blooded killer that has never shown one ounce of remorse for the murders and subsequent devastation that he created for my family,” Mangum concluded. “We are concerned not only for our personal safety, but also for the safety of anyone who may come in contact with this psychopath.”
If the Mississippi Parole Board maintains its decision, Williams will be released on May 16. The parole board nor Governor Tate Reeves immediately responded to a request for comment.