Real Name: Andre Jones
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Date: August 22, 1992
Details: Eighteen-year-old Andre Jones of Jackson, Mississippi, was planning to start college in the Fall of 1992. His mother Esther was president of the Jackson, Mississippi branch of the NAACP. His stepfather Charles Quinn was a Nation of Islam minister. At 1AM on the night of Saturday, August 22, he and his girlfriend Tanisha Love were driving when they arrived at a routine sobriety checkpoint in Brandon. Andre was driving a friend's pickup truck. At 1:30AM, his parents received a phone call from Tanisha; she told them that he had been arrested.
At 2AM, he called his parents from the Brandon police station. He told them that he did not know what he had been arrested for. At 4AM, he called again and told them that he had been transferred to the Simpson County Jail, forty miles south of Jackson. His parents claimed that they received five calls from him that day; he still did not know what he was charged with.
The next morning, an officer arrived at the Quinn's door. He gave them a phone number for the Simpson County Jail. Esther was told that her son Andre had committed suicide. According to his parents, he had never shown suicidal tendencies. He had no signs of depression. He also did not have a previous arrest record. His parents were certain that he had not committed suicide.
Looking into the circumstances of his death, his parents tried to learn what happened on the night he was arrested. At around 11:45PM on Friday, August 21, Andre and Tanisha went to his parents' home in Jackson. After leaving there, the two drove east towards Brandon, where Tanisha lived. Before they arrived in Brandon, they stopped at the checkpoint. According to the police, Andre stopped the truck just short of the checkpoint and threw an object out of the vehicle. They identified the object as a .38 caliber handgun. Inside the truck was an open can of beer. Finally, they determined that the truck he was driving was stolen.
Tanisha's version of events was much different than the police version. She claimed that there was no beer in the truck and Andre did not throw a gun out of it. She claimed that after hearing Andre's name, several of the officers came together and talked about something. They asked him if he had his license, and when he said that he did not, he was placed Andre under arrest.
Police commissioner Jim Ingram disagrees with Tanisha's story. He claims that Andre was very cooperative with the police. He even allegedly admitted to being in a gang and had them photograph him showing various gang signs. His parents, however, do not believe that he was in a gang. The police have refused to release the photographs of Andre with the gang signs.
That night, Andre was charged with four counts: driving a truck whose vehicle identification number had been altered, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of stole license plate tags, and driving with an open container of alcohol. Ingram claims that the arrest was non-confrontational. But Charles Quinn claims that an inmate at the jail in Brandon told him that officers used racial epithets to intimidate Andre. At approximately 4AM on Saturday, Andre was transferred from the jail in Brandon to the Simpson County Jail, which had a reputation for being dangerous.
According to the police, another inmate found Andre hanging in the jail cell's shower. He had hung himself with one of his shoe laces. Investigators claim that he tied the shoe lace to an iron grate above the shower head. Charles estimated that the grate was eight feet above the floor. He believes that Andre would have needed a stool to stand on for him to commit suicide. However, state pathologist Dr. Haines claimed that it was possible for him to have hung himself without help. His family does not believe that his body could have been supported by a lace from his running shoes. However, Dr. Haines claimed that the laces were tested by the manufacturer and the strength of the lace was sufficient enough to support him.
Less than a week after Andre's death, his parents hired an independent pathologist, Dr. James Bryant, to review the case. He believes that Andre was strangled because the ligature mark on his neck was inconsistent with a hanging. Dr. Haines, however, claims that the marks on his neck were consistent with a hanging. The autopsy report from Dr. Haines found no evidence of bruising on Andre's neck or other parts of his body. Dr. Bryant, however, found evidence of bruises on his eyes and shoulder.
One of the inmates told Andre's parents that he had been taken by officers from the cell block to an unknown location. The officers then returned him in a wheelchair and staged the hanging. However, the other inmates did not confirm this statement. Dr. Haines stated that his autopsy findings have been reviewed by the local police, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI. All agreed with his ruling. However, Andre's family and friends are convinced that someone else was responsible for his death. They believe that his death may have been racially-motivated. They also believe that his death may have been connected to at least forty-seven other suspicious deaths that occurred in the jail in the years prior.
In March of 1993, a coalition of civil rights groups conducted hearings in Jackson, Mississippi. There was testimony from family members of both black and white inmates who had died under questionable circumstances. After two days of testimony, the US Commission on Civil Rights recommended that the Justice Department open an investigation.
Five months later, Dr. Emily Ward, a specialist in forensic pathology became Mississippi State Medical Examiner. She reviewed Andre's autopsy report, along with the reports of several other inmates. She is convinced that their deaths are suicides. However, their families disagree and want a full investigation.
Suspects: Andre's family believes that the police officers at the Simpson County Jail were involved in his death.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the February 2, 1994 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unresolved. The Quinn family filed a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi and another against the federal government. Both lawsuits were later dismissed. An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department cited Mississippi's jail system for "gross deficiencies". However, the report failed to find evidence that the Mississippi hangings were anything other than suicides.
- Andre Jones on Unsolved.com
- Andre Jones on Unresolved Podcast
- Death in a Jailhouse: The Ruling, A Suicide; The Fear, a Lynching
- Blacks fear jails becoming new lynching trees
- Southern blacks fear lynching masked as jail suicide
- Family calls jail hanging a lynching, not suicide
- Jail death conjures specter of Mississippi civil rights abuses
- Reno orders probe of jail hangings
- Islam leader supports jail hanging investigation
- Hanged inmate’s parents sue authorities
- Eight defendants dismissed in jail lawsuit
- Estate of Jones v. Quinn (1998)