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Local Cold Case File on Oxygen

Cold Case File: Television program makes shocking allegations in 41-year-old shotgun death

By Stacey Cato

City Leaders in Harrison County say the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport suddenly appointed a new board member this week. Pass Christian resident and former Memorial Chief of Medical Staff, Dr. Thad Carter, has taken the seat of Kathie Short, whose term wasn’t set to expire until September this year.

Carter’s appointment comes amid an investigation aired nationwide on Oxygen into the 1975 death of 22-year-old Tye Breland of Pascagoula.

Breland had been married to Short for eight months at the time. Short, was the sole witness to her husband’s fatal encounter that evening with a 410 sawed-off shotgun. Oxygen.com aired it’s new segment, “Cold Justice: Beyond the Grave” last week, showcasing a new investigation into the untimely demise.

According to police, Tye’s lifeless body was found in his apartment on the floor at the foot of the bed. The gun was on top the bed, in the center of the mattress. Short had told authorities her husband had shot himself as she went to get him a glass of water from the bathroom sink.

A team of forensic specialists with the show looked into the 41-year-old case and helped shed new light for Pascagoula police. The episode outlined the events which led up to Breland’s death and investigates the family’s suspicions.

Bobby Breland, Tye’s brother, said on the show that, “I’ve always said, all along, you will not know until you exhume my brother’s body. The proof is in the ground.” Bobby said. “All you got to do is dig it up.”

So Oxygen’s team did just that. Prosecutor Kelly Siegler and Independent Homicide Investigator Johnny Bonds
were just part of the Oxygen.com’s team who came to the numerous interviews with family, friends, and people who
had heard the various versions of how Tye died from Short herself over the many years.

“What matters is her ever-changing story of that night,” said Seigler.

Ballistics from the investigation determined Tye would have been shot from a distance of about 6 inches.
In one account, Short tells her daughter Tye had shot himself on purpose but didn’t intend to die but a friend later said Short had told them Tye was cleaning the gun and it accidentally went off. Lastly, one person said Short claimed he was twirling the gun around and it just fired.

Oxygen’s team deemed the case their hardest yet. Not only because of the many, many years that have gone by but because of the lack of evidence that still exist including the actual weapon.

Authorities say in 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept away any evidence that would have been collected several decades ago. The only piece known to have survived, they said, was a recording of Short’s interview with the coroner.

Versiga said he has spoken with Short and she knows where they stand with the case. Enough evidenced was gathered, he said, to present the new developments to the district attorney.

“We will let the people of Jackson County look at it,” Versiga said.

If you missed the episode, “Cold Justice: Beyond the Grave,” it’s available to watch online.

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