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Search and Seizure Report
Cooter's Farm
 
AFFIDAVIT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
 
Counties of Panola, Lafayette and Yoknapatawpha
 
Your affiant, Detective Terrence Nelson, Yoknapawtapha County Sheriff's Office, states as follows:
 
1. I, Detective Terrence Nelson, have been a Detective with the Yoknapawtapha County Sheriff's Office for 14 years. I have 10 years investigative experience in the Crimes Against Persons Division including crime scene analysis training and experience.
 
2. On July 18, 1997 your affiant and other agents of the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office and the Panola County Sheriff's Office accompanied by a forensics team from the Jackson State Crime Lab, began the execution of a search warrant on the residence owned by Orville and Beverly Cooter, located at 26160 Goodnight Road, Batesville, in the County of Panola. The premises is a red and white brick three story structure with doric columns, locally known as the "Cooter Estate" or "Cooter's Farm" also including outbuildings of a barn, equipment shed and storage shed. The records of Panola County indicate that this property was deeded to Orville and Beverly Cooter in 1982.
 
3. When peace officers knocked at the door, Orville Cooter was served with the search and seizure warrant and was removed from the residence so that the search could begin. Additional residents and guests on the premises also removed at this time included Beverly Cooter, Blaine Pitzer, Elizabeth Schott, Brett Hart and Joshua Niblett. The items described herein constitute the results of this search.
 
4. I personally participated in the search. As set forth in detail below, during the search I observed evidence to indicate that the victim in the homicide case, Ms. Ariadne P. Knight, had in fact maintained a residence at this location, that there were on the premises no indicators of prolonged captivity.
 
5. The search produced three legally registered rifles in the house and one unregistered .38 caliber handgun found in the storage shed to the rear of the barn to the east, in a locked tool bin taken into custody.
 
6. I observed the paraphernalia and processing materials along with dried marijuana in an amount to constitute personal consumption use in the storage shed to the rear of the barn on the east side of the property. No prescription drugs were found on the premises, no other illegal drugs were recovered in this search. There was no evidence of marijuana growing activity on the property.
 
7. The equipment storage shed located to the southeast of the main residence contained numerous hand and power tools along with a complete workshop area. These included mechanical drills, drill bits, hack saw and blades, circular saw, rip saw and jigsaw, all of which were examined by the forensic team and samples taken including prints. Scraps of lumber and building materials were taken for forensic examination, however, no scraps of 3/4 plywood were found. No plans or diagrams, blueprints or notes were identified related to the construction of a ventilated burial box of the type in homicide case # 1074589.
 
8. The upper area of the barn located to the rear of the main residence to the east showed evidence of use as party or band platform staging area. Numerous coolers, cases of beer and wine and stacks of folding tables and chairs were found. The loft area showed evidence of cigarette and marijuana residue and debris which was collected by forensics.
 
9. The lower area of the barn is the storage area for the 1996 black 4 door sport pick up Ford model F-150 owned by Orville Cooter, used as a show vehicle. This vehicle was clean and tarped. The forensics team vacuumed and dusted the vehicle with little product retrieved.
 
10. Other features of the property showed a bonfire pit to the northeast of the house located halfway between the house and barn. The pit was sifted and searched by the forensics team for signs of destruction of evidence.
 
11. The focal point of the search was on the main residence. There were no video recordings, audio recordings, photographic evidence or answering machine tapes related to our search found on the premises.
 
12. The second story front bedroom on the southwest corner of the house is the room occupied by Ms. Knight during her residence on the property. A thorough forensics examination of the room was conducted producing the following list of items taken to the Jackson lab for testing: vacuuming of bed, floor, closet dry swabbing of sills, knobs, dresser top, closet shelf three latent lifts bedding one canvas 15 inch duffel containing a pad of paper with notations and two pens
 
Site testing on stains showed no blood traces.
 
13. The pad of paper recovered in the canvas duffel is believed to contain notations made by the deceased, Ariadne P. Knight, and consists of the following:
 
"Send in leave of absence request, registrar's office by March 31 ------have chem and stats makeup approved -----have to be back April 7 or fail" with the word "fail" underlined.
 
"Who is Teri's freak??? Can't they leave me alone??????" with the word "alone" underlined.
 
14. Based upon my experience in the investigation of Crimes Against Persons and violent crimes units I find no indication that Ms. Knight was held in captivity on these premises. I find evidence that she was in residence and the notations on the notepad found in the room require further investigation.
 
S/A Terrence Nelson
July 18, 1997

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