Accused Killer’s Wife Speaks Out
A man accused of murder has turned himself in to the Columbus Police Department.
Forty-seven-year-old Curtis Hinton contacted investigators with CPD last Thursday after he learned a warrant had been issued for his arrest in the 1997 murder of George Wilbanks.
Chief of Police Selvain McQueen announced in a press conference on June 22 that Hinton was wanted in connection with the murder of Wilbanks.
Investigators believe Hinton committed the murder with Earnest Talley. Talley was arrested in February and charged with murder. At the time of Talley’s arrest, officials with the CPD said the murder investigation was still “ongoing.”
Hinton was in Wisconsin when the arrest warrant was issued, but his wife, Laura Hinton, said her husband contacted authorities immediately. According to Laura Hinton, she and her husband drove from Wisconsin to Mississippi over the weekend to talk with investigators. However, Laura Hinton said that neither she nor her husband thought he would be placed under arrest. In a telephone interview with The Packet, Laura Hinton explained that the police told Hinton they simply “wanted to talk to him” but “once he got there they turned around and arrested him. It was a shock to us.”
Laura Hinton admits that her husband has a checkered past but claims that since his release from prison in 2007, he has “cleaned his life up.” Laura Hinton repeatedly stated that Curtis Hinton is innocent and claims that the police have yet to check Hinton’s alibi. She stated that investigators first interviewed Hinton back in 1997 the day after the murder occurred. According to Laura Hinton, her husband was at his sister’s house at the time of Wilbanks’s murder. Laura Hinton also claims there are four witnesses who can confirm the alibi. She also claims the police took DNA samples from Hinton while he was serving time in prison for a cocaine charge.
She stated, “They don’t have any evidence. They’re going off hearsay. They’re going off the guy who they did catch for the murder. There is no evidence tying my husband to the case for this murder. The police haven’t even questioned any of the people my husband claims he was with.”
Laura and Curtis Hinton met in 2008 when Curtis Hinton was visiting his father in Milwaukee. The pair dated until they married in late 2011. Laura Hinton affectionately referred to the two as “newlyweds” and said her husband “takes very good care of me.”
Laura Hinton stated she knew of her husband’s past issues with the law, but claims that as far as Wilbanks was concerned, the deceased and her husband were “very good friends.”
According to Laura Hinton, Curtis Hinton initially worked for Wilbanks as a gardener before the two began working together in interior design. Laura Hinton also claimed that Wilbanks attended Curtis Hinton’s first marriage ceremony and even gave Hinton and his wife a car as a wedding present. Of Hinton’s alleged involvement in Wilbanks’s murder, Laura Hinton stated her husband told her he was innocent and “I believe my husband.”
She admitted that while her husband had a cocaine habit in the past, he has “been clean for five years.”
That cocaine habit is how she claims her husband knew Earnest Talley. “My husband used to be on crack, that’s the only contact that he had with Talley. They used to do drugs together in passing, maybe four or five times,” she said.
Laura Hinton further claimed that if Talley stated Hinton was involved he was “lying.” Laura Hinton also accused McQueen of grandstanding by “appearing on the news and saying they solved a cold case.”
She added, “How could they have solved the murder? They’re trying to convict an innocent man. The man who is accusing my husband of being in on it with him is lying. The chief of police is just trying to make a name for himself. He’s lying. They’re trying to convict an innocent man.”
Curtis Hinton is currently is custody at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center and is being held on a $2 million bond. Laura Hinton said she talks to her husband every day and he is “hanging in there.” She claims that he does not have an attorney at this time and she is “trying to raise $50,000 from friends, family and sponsors.” According to Hinton, “If he decides to take a public defender, he might lose. I believe him and his family believes him. I would like the city of Columbus, Miss., to know that my husband did not commit this crime.”
Hinton’s preliminary hearing is set for Sep. 6, 2012.
Wilbanks was one of five elderly people murdered in Columbus within a two-year period. The cases garnered national media attention. Wilbanks was the second of five senior citizens murdered between 1996 and 1998. Also murdered were Louise Randall, 80; Betty Everett, 68; Robert Hannah, 61; and Mack Fowler, 78. Wilbanks was strangled to death and his body was discovered on Nov. 2, 1997, in his Second Avenue North home.
The four remaining murders remain unsolved.