Unsolved Mysteries Wiki


Real Name: James Wesley Dyess
Aliases: Monkey
Wanted For: Murder, Escape
Missing Since: April 25, 1986


Details: In 1986, James Dyess was convicted of burglary in Clarke County, Mississippi. On April 25, he was scheduled to be transferred by prison bus to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, where he was to begin a seven-year sentence. However, before this could happen, he and an accomplice, Robert Minnick, escaped from the jail in which they were being held. The next day, they broke into a trailer in Clarke County, looking for weapons. They then robbed and killed the trailer's twenty-year-old owner, Donald Ellis Thomas, and his twenty-two-year-old cousin, Lamar Lafferty, with one of Donald's own guns. They dumped their bodies in a gully behind the trailer. Lamar's two-year-old son was left unharmed. Two young girls who came upon the scene were tied up but also left unharmed. The men then escaped in Donald's truck.
On August 22, 1986, Minnick was arrested in Lemon Grove, California, but Dyess remained at large. He was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on September 29.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on Special #1 on January 20, 1987 in a FBI fugitive roll call
Results: Captured. On March 16, 1988, Dyess was arrested without incident after an officer recognized him during a routine traffic stop in Los Angeles, California. He was later returned to Mississippi, convicted of the murders, and sentenced to life in prison. He died there in July 2018 at the age of sixty-two.
Minnick was convicted of the murders and was initially sentenced to death. However, his sentence was later commuted to life in prison.