Woman Charged with Murder After Body of Son Found Behind 'False Wall'

John Allen Gaither's body was found in Jerri Lynn Roby's home in Gulfport, Mississippi on Thursday

A woman in Mississippi has been charged with murder after the body of her son was discovered behind a "false wall."  Electrical Db Box

Woman Charged with Murder After Body of Son Found Behind 'False Wall'

According to a statement from the Gulfport Police Department on Facebook Sunday, Jerri Lynn Roby, 66, who also goes by the last name Isreal, was arrested on Saturday and charged with one count of first-degree murder. 

Police said they found the body of John Allen Gaither, 42, in a “wooden box” hidden behind the “false wall” in her Gulfport home. Gulfport Police Department spokesman Jason DuCré confirmed to PEOPLE that Gaither was Roby’s son.

Authorities started investigating on Dec. 22, 2023 after officers responded to a residence in connection to a welfare concern regarding a possible missing person. According to DuCré, per CNN, the last known contact with Gaither was on Dec. 10.

Five days later on Dec. 27, police conducted several follow-ups and “began noticing discrepancies in statements provided by Isreal. Throughout the course of the investigation, Isreal became increasingly uncooperative and changed her statements multiple times,” the police statement continued. 

Authorities also learned that Roby had previously been arrested and convicted of murder in Florida around 1995, and “subsequently made several attempts to dump the deceased subject at different locations throughout Florida.”

Following the discovery of this information, detectives obtained a search warrant for her home and conducted a search on Jan. 18. According to CNN, when detectives walked into her home, Roby took a handful of unspecified pills and was then transported to a hospital for medical treatment.

The search led to the discovery of a deceased body, later identified as Gaither.

According to DuCré, per CNN, Roby attempted to cover up the crime by writing notes to family members posing as her son. Police also said multiple homemade wooden boxes were found in her home and inside her garage.

Following her release from the hospital, “Isreal was processed and transported to the Harrison County Adult Detention Center to be held in lieu of her bond,” the statement added.

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Authorities are urging anyone with information on the incident to get in touch with the Gulfport Police Department or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers. 

A spokesperson for the Gulfport Pollice Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for additional information.

Woman Charged with Murder After Body of Son Found Behind 'False Wall'

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