Anthony McCrillis had a rough past but had started to turn things around. He’d recently moved to Madison, Mississippi, was living with family, had completed a recovery program and was about to start a new job.
According to his mother, Angie McCrillis, the 34-year-old had struggled with mental illness since he was a teen but had come a long way.
But over the past weekend, something terrible happened, and McCrillis was found deceased in the back of his car early Sunday morning.
There is much mystery surrounding the death and the discovery of his body, and his family is praying that the investigation is done properly and the truth is made known.
McCrillis went to the Jackson Motor Speedway on Friday night, and that was the last time anyone seems to have known his whereabouts.
Sometime between midnight on Saturday and early Sunday morning, two men reportedly came across McCrillis’ car on the side of the road near the speedway — with a “free car” sign on it.
“The two individuals who took the car, took the car down to Copiah County where they were essentially joy riding in the vehicle,” Byram Police Chief David Errington told the outlet. “And they discovered the body and they — they were the ones who called 911 and requested Copiah County Sheriff’s office.”
The two men were interviewed and released and are not currently being considered suspects, Errington said.
The details seem questionable to the bereaved mother, who says they’re not adding up and the media is misrepresenting the case.
First, Angie McCrillis pointed out that while some outlets are saying her son’s body was found in the trunk of the car, the car is a hatchback, so there’s really no separate trunk space.
“The person that drove his car at least 25 miles from Byram was driving a car that had a 6’4” 230 pound man in the back,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
McCrillis also questioned who called 911 after the discovery, as it seemed there were several good Samaritans who did it rather than the men who had taken the car.
“They flagged down someone on Highway 27 about two and a half miles past what used to be Sudies Catfish restaurant and the lady who stopped called 911,” she continued in her post. “She asked them how in the world they didn’t see him. A nice gentleman stopped too, and he asked the same thing , how did you not see him.
“The guys stories have changed 2 or 3 times while they were still on the highway talking to the people who stopped to help. They weren’t even taken into custody, why? I don’t know. So by now they could have destroyed evidence and now they have had enough time to get their stories straight.”
Another important point McCrillis wanted to make was that while some stories are saying her son was found nude, she said he was found wearing only his “t-shirt and his cross necklace.”
“No jeans, socks, or underwear, or boots that his nephew Reed had just given him,” she said. “Joel was very modest and would have never been in the back of his car naked.”
Police said there were no obvious wounds or signs of an attack that would have led to McCrillis’ demise and that an autopsy was forthcoming.
Family and friends of the deceased want answers, too, and justice for what they’re sure was a crime.
“No rant tonight,” Angie McCrillis shared on Wednesday. “Just a sad Mama. If anybody saw him at the races at The Jackson Motor Speedway Friday night please say something. His car was down the road from the race track. It’s Important if he was seen with anyone.
“Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us, it means a lot. I know God is in control and has a plan we can’t see. We have to be patient and wait on God to show us what happened Friday night.”
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