BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A 59-year-old Mississippi woman was strangled in her bedroom by a sex offender who was recently released from prison and living next door to her, authorities said Thursday.
Rankin County Judge Kent McDaniel entered not guilty pleas Thursday for 30-year-old Cortrell Rose. Rose is charged with capital murder, burglary and car theft in the death of Lenora Patsy Edhegard. Rose also was charged with failing to register as a sex offender and is likely to face counts of kidnapping and being a felon in possession of a gun, authorities said.
The sex offender registry listed a Jackson address for Rose, but he had been living in Brandon next door to Edhegard for at least several weeks, authorities believe.
Edhegard disappeared Monday night after a shopping trip. Her co-workers at a Jackson law firm called authorities when she didn't show up for work the next morning, saying it was out of character for her to be late and not answer the phone, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said.
Deputies who went to her house found evidence of a crime and information that led them to a specific area of Jackson, where Rose was spotted in Edhegard's car on Tuesday, Bailey said.
Rose pulled a pistol and ran when an officer tried pull him over, but dropped the gun when the officer pulled his own weapon. He was found hiding behind a drink vending machine in a Jackson Wal-Mart after numerous law enforcement agencies sealed off the area, Bailey said
Bailey said Rose led investigators to Edhegard's body in a rural area near Tougaloo College in Madison County on Tuesday night.
Rose, with tattoos on his arms and wearing glasses and a yellow jail jumpsuit, was shackled as he was led into court. He said little during the brief initial appearance. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 9. A public defender represented Rose for Thursday's hearing, but the judge said another lawyer may take over the case.
Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest said Edhegard was strangled in her bedroom, but preliminary autopsy results did not indicate sexual abuse.
Guest said he would talk to the victim's family before deciding if he'll pursue the death penalty on the capital murder charge.
Rose was released from prison May 31. He was sentenced to just over four years in 2004 on a conviction for fondling a child in Monroe County. He was sent back to prison in 2009 for three years for a probation violation and failing to register as a sex offender in Adams County. He had also been convicted of burglary in 2001 in Warren County, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Tara Booth.