Murder suspect in jail

Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

NATCHEZ — A motorist heading home on McNeil Road in Natchez reported the body of a man he assumed was the victim of a hit-and-run late Thursday night.

But Adams County Sheriff’s deputies soon learned the man lying in the road was the victim of three execution-style gunshot wounds to the head, and by Friday afternoon the murder suspect was in custody.

“It was a very close type of shot,” said Adams County Coroner James Lee, who described the homicide as brutal.

Email newsletter signup

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said a motorist reported the body at 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

The victim’s body was discovered lying in the road approximately 150 yards from U.S. 84.

The victim was identified on the scene as Willie Lee Chatman, 38, 205 Choctaw St.

Mayfield said all three gunshot wounds entered Chatman’s forehead above his right eye and exited the back of his head in roughly the same area.

Deputies booked the murder suspect, Troy J. Ford, 29, 310 Arlington Ave., at 1:45 p.m. Friday, Mayfield said.

“(The nature of the gunshot wounds) definitely shows it wasn’t an accident,” Mayfield said. “It shows there was passion involved…to shoot somebody three times in the head like that.”

Mayfield said Ford was apparently a friend of Chatman’s before the shooting, which reportedly occurred following an argument.

Both the suspect and victim had been drinking alcohol and were with others earlier in the night who reportedly noticed them arguing, Mayfield said.

Mayfield said he was not sure of the nature of the argument between Chatman and Ford.

Mayfield said deputies have reason to believe Ford and Chatman were driving in Ford’s white Ford Bronco, when the driver pulled over on McNeil Road and both men got out of the car to argue.

Mayfield said he believes both men were standing up when the shooting occurred.

“I don’t believe it was planned,” Mayfied said.

“I think they just got in an argument and stopped the vehicle.”

Mayfield said Chatman fell backward after he was shot, and his right hand was tucked in his right pocket, and his left hand was out, leading Mayfield to believe that Chatman did not expect to be shot.


Chatman appeared to have no weapons on him, and $125 and a cell phone was recovered from his body.

Ford was held at the sheriff’s office after investigators gained a description of a vehicle that matched Ford’s vehicle from neighbors that said they saw a white Bronco stopped on the side of the road before the alleged murder.

Deputies also connected Ford to the crime scene when acquaintances said Ford and Chatman were together in Ford’s vehicle.

When police went to Ford’s house to question him, however, they were instructed that Ford was at the sheriff’s office.

Ford apparently drove Chatman’s wife to the sheriff’s office in another car after she received a call to go there concerning her husband.

Deputies held Ford at the sheriff’s office, and deputies obtained an arrest warrant Friday.

Mayfield said Ford was cooperative, but that he had not signed a formal statement.

No murder weapon has been recovered, but Mayfield said he believes Chatman was shot with a small, .38-caliber handgun.

Ford was previously convicted of a felony in New Orleans, which is Ford’s place of birth. The prior conviction reportedly involved negligent homicide related to driving under the influence.