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Bond Denied for Man Accused of Killing Jay Lee; Detective Provides Chilling Details

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


Police escort Sheldon “Timothy” Herrington from the Lafayette County Courthouse Tuesday after he was denied bond. Photo by Alyssa Schnugg

Two minutes after Jimmie “Jay” Lee told Sheldon “Timmy” Herrington he was on the way to his house, Herrington Googled, “How long does it take to strangle someone to death?”

That was part of the five hours of testimony at the Lafayette County Courthouse before Circuit Court Judge Gray Tollison.

Herrington was arrested on July 22 and charged with the murder of Lee, who would have turned 21 last Saturday. Herrington appeared in court Tuesday for a probable cause hearing and a bond hearing. The state prosecution had filed a motion to deny bond.

Tollison granted that motion and denied Herrington bond. He also found there was enough probable cause for capital murder charge to move forward before the grand jury.

Lee, 20, was last seen at about 6 a.m. on July 8 when he left his apartment at Campus Walk Apartments wearing a silver robe or housecoat, a gold sleeping cap and gray slippers.

His body has not yet been recovered.

The day of testimony started with Lee’s mother, Stephanie Lee, who said she and Lee were very close and he would text her several times a day. The two would often check their phone apps to see where the other person was located. Stephanie said her son texted her at 2 a.m. on July 8 to wish her a happy birthday. It was the last text she received from him.

Jimmie “Jay” Lee was last seen alive on July 8. Photo via Facebook

Oxford Police Department Detective Ryan Baker testified that a conversation between Lee and Herrington took place over Snapchat in the early morning hours of July 8. The two had known each other for about four months and had recently entered into a sexual relationship. Baker said the conversation showed the two had an argument at about 4 a.m. and Lee blocked Herrington from his social media accounts. Herrington made a new account and texted Lee asking him to “come back” to his Lafayette Place apartment. At first, Lee told Herrington he didn’t want to because he was afraid Herrington would hurt him. However, Lee then said he was on his way and at 5:58 a.m., texted Herrington, “Open.”

In the text conversation, Herrington said he wanted to do something “he’d never done before.”

Baker said Herrington’s computer and phone, which were taken as evidence, showed Herrington’s search on Google about strangulation and then a second search as to whether working out would increase testosterone.

Tayla Carey, Lee’s sister, said she and her family were thankful for the support and prayers. Photo by Alyssa Schnugg

Baker said Herrington was seen driving Lee’s car to Molly Barr Trails, where it was towed later that day. Herrington was then picked up by a friend while walking along Molly Barr and taken to his home where he got into a box truck he used for his moving business. Baker showed video surveillance of Lee that showed Herrington’s path that day.

He said cadaver dogs, who are trained to pick up the scent of human remains, were used inside Herrington’s apartment and his truck. The dogs “hit” when they smell the scent of a deceased body. Baker said the dogs “hit” three times in Herrington’s bedroom, once in the living room and in the backseat and trunk area of his SUV.

In a video of Herrington’s interrogation, Herrington said Lee did come over and the two had sexual relations and then he claimed Lee left. He said he went for a run from his apartment to Molly Barr Road.

Baker said Herrington drove to his family’s home in Grenada late that day where surveillance cameras show him loading gardening tools and a wheelbarrow into his truck. The cadaver dogs also searched the van and made a “hit” that a body had been in the truck.

Baker also testified that Herrington was seen on video at the Oxford Walmart buying duct tape at about 6:45 a.m. on July 8.

Herrington did not testify on Tuesday.

His attorney, Kevin Horan argued that the dogs could not be used as evidence since the prosecution did not present any evidence of the dogs’ credentials or that they were reliable.

Other Google searches showed Herrington had looked up airplane flights to Texas and Singapore after Lee’s death.

Herrington’s mother took the stand and read off dozens of awards and accolades her son had won over the years. One of Herrington’s former teachers and a principal testified that Herrington was respected and reliable and would follow any instructions he was given by the judge if he was granted bond.

Throughout the five-hour hearing, a group of Lee’s friends and members of the LGBTQ community held signs and chanted “Justice for Jay,” and “Where is Jay?”

Investigators have searched several places in Oxford and Lafayette County, as well as Grenada County for Lee’s remains.

The case is expected to go before the grand jury later this month for a formal indictment.

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