Investigators: August murder victim beaten, stabbed


Sarah Fowler



Gwen Roberson spent the last moments of her life face down on her kitchen floor. 


Roberson, 46, was killed Aug. 11. Her Downs Road mobile home was then set on fire. 


Roberson's teenage neighbor, Traveil Hicks, has been indicted for capital murder and arson. Hicks, who lived less than 100 yards from Roberson in northern Lowndes County, was 17 at the time but has turned 18. 


According to an affidavit on file at the Lowndes County Circuit Clerk's office, someone contacted the sheriff's department after Roberson's death, claiming Hicks, on Aug. 14, confessed to the murder. 


"I have done something bad," the affidavit quotes Hicks as telling the person. "Gwen Roberson's house burned down and I know who did it."  


Hicks allegedly broke into Roberson's home intending to tie her up and rob her, according to the person quoted in the affidavit. The person is not named in the affidavit. 


The witness told law enforcement Hicks broke into Roberson's home by breaking the lock on the door. Once inside, Hicks heard Roberson singing in the bathtub. Roberson spotted Hicks and screamed and asked him what he was doing in her home, according to the affidavit. Hicks allegedly responded he came to borrow some sugar. When Roberson began walking toward Hicks, he allegedly hit her on the back of the head with the end of a pistol, according to the affidavit. He then told her to lay face down on the floor before again hitting her in the back of the head, this time with a cast-iron skillet. Hicks allegedly told the witness he grabbed a knife out of the kitchen sink and stabbed her in the back of the neck. Before leaving the home, he lit a blanket on fire that was sitting on the back of the couch, the affidavit states. 


According to the sheriff's department investigator that prepared the affidavit, Will Spann, "the details that are given during the statement would be details that only the person that was inside Roberson's home would know." 


Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant has declined to release the cause of death pending investigation, he said. Merchant did confirm Roberson died prior to the fire. 


The affidavit states the Mississippi Medical Examiner's office ruled Roberson was deceased before the fire. According to the affidavit, Roberson had "blunt force trauma to the back of her head and a cut or a gash on the back of her neck causing damage to two of the vertebrae in her neck and cutting her carotid artery." 


Hicks was arrested Aug. 15 along Downs Road, according to the affidavit. When questioned by investigators, Hicks denied any involvement in Roberson's death. 


He remains in the custody of the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center, according to jail records. 


His trial date is set for Feb. 23. He is represented by public defender Steve Wallace, according to court documents.  


He faces life in prison.


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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