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Biography: Hunter Nelson, victim's student

Nathaniel Harrison "Hunter" Nelson was born on March 17, 1983 in Natchez, Mississippi to Beauregard "Beau" and Lindsay Nelson. The physician listed on the birth certificate, Dr. Stephen Johnson, stated "Hunter was named after a Confederate general who was born in Natchez. The Nelson family is one of Natchez's most prominent families and Beau obviously is named after Confederate stock so they wanted to carry on the tradition. Even though lots of folks think that's some funny alliteration. That's probably the reason for the nickname."

The Nelson family tradition can be traced back to the very beginnings of the town that is the oldest civilized settlement on the Mississippi River. Due to the incredible fortunes being made in the cotton industry in the early 1860's, only New York, Boston, and Philadelphia contained more millionaires than Natchez, Mississippi. And the Nelson family patriarch was one of those millionaires. After the war, the Nelson family went into a variety of non-agricultural lines of business including banking and law.

By the time of Hunter's birth, the family was still firmly entrenched in Natchez society. His father, Beau, was a lawyer and also owned a vast real estate portfolio. Former staff members at the Nelson antebellum mansion claim that the young boy showed a voracious taste for almost everything. "It didn't matter what it was, he wanted it and he wanted it all. I mean, someone could come in the room with wallpaper paste, and Hunter wanted some of it and he wanted to have more than you did. Half the time, the kid didn't even know what stuff was. He just knew that he had to have it."

Those same former staff members say Hunter's parents did little to curb the young boy's hunger. Almost everyone has stories of Hunter's temper tantrums being ignored by Beau and Lindsay. More than a few residents of Natchez claim that the Nelson parents were numbed by alcohol, prescription drugs, and arrogance and therefore never even realized Hunter's behavior was unacceptable.

"You couldn't do anything," said Lori Jacobsen. She is a schoolteacher in the Cherry Hill, NJ area, who used to teach Hunter in an exclusive private school in Natchez. "He was a little monster, wouldn't pay attention, smarted off all the time, and generally ran amok. But you couldn't discipline him. I finally had enough and threw a fit. But Beau Nelson was on the board at the school. So about a week after I threw Hunter out of my class, I was told my contract would not be renewed."

Hunter's school career seems to have continued along these same lines. Many teachers refused to speak on the record and wanted to remain nameless. But they all confirmed his appetite and the inability to control him. "We just hunkered down, tried to get through the year as best as possible, and pass him along to the next victim." Hunter's social life seemed equally fleeting. He attracted a large group of male friends, all members of the Natchez elite. He also flaunted a string of the most beautiful girls of Natchez that made most men of the town either envious or irate. "He's a good looking kid, I'll give him that much. And with all that Nelson money, most girls will overlook the fact that he's a jerk. But, I have to admit, he can be extremely charming when he wants to," said one faculty member.

"If he didn't have the parents that he has, and the last name that he has, that punk would be dead right now. The way he carries on in this town is ridiculous. I'd like to get my hands on that snot-nosed brat," said one Natchez resident who would only identify himself as "the father of one of Hunter's victims."

School records show that Hunter graduated with a 2.75 GPA and was admitted to the University of Mississippi. He began classes in the fall of 2001. Sources on campus say that he was registered for a room at the Stockard-Martin dormitory but that he actually lived in an apartment on Warren Street. Since beginning school at Ole Miss, Hunter has become well-known to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Although never charged with any offense, most members of the force know his Lexus on sight and have at least stopped him for traffic offenses.

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