Murder indictment issued in 1984 death
By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
July 27, 2001
A Meridian mother's persistence was rewarded this week when a Lauderdale County grand jury issued a murder indictment in the 1984 death of her daughter, 4-year-old Angela Schnoor.
Debbie Boswell asked Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore to re-investigate the case earlier this year.
The new investigation resulted in an indictment Tuesday against Peggy Sloan Starns. She was arrested Thursday in Baton Rouge, La., where she now lives.
Angela Schnoor was pronounced dead at a Meridian hospital on July 30, 1984. She had been brought to the emergency room two days earlier, unconscious and not breathing. The cause of death was determined to be brain damage resulting from suffocation.
The girl had been living with her natural father, Meridian firefighter Michael Schnoor, and her step-mother, known then as Peggy Schnoor. At the time of her death, a spokesman for the attorney general said, it was alleged that Angela Schnoor had accidentally suffocated on a couch at her home.
Former Police Chief Gregg Lewis was a patrolman in 1984. He took part in the investigation of the child's death and in the re-investigation earlier this year.
The original investigation did not result in any charges.
Boswell had also worked with two district attorneys over the years to try to re-open an investigation into her daughter's death former District Attorney Charlie Wright and current District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell.
The attorney general's Public Integrity Division led the new investigation 15 investigators and four prosecutors.
Mitchell said new information was key to the case.
Oddly enough, the prosecution of an old civil rights case, the murder of Medgar Evers, had an impact in the investigation of this 17-year-old death.
Evers was shot and killed in front of his Jackson home on June 11, 1963. Byron de la Beckwith was tried for the murder in 1963 and 1964. Both trials ended in hung juries. He was finally convicted in 1994 more than 30 years later.
Angela Schnoor's father, Michael Schnoor, was surprised by news of the indictment.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office said Michael and Peggy Schnoor, now Peggy Sloan Starns, separated and divorced immediately after the child's death.
Debbie Boswell could not be reached for comment.
No trial date has been set in Lauderdale County Circuit Court. Special Assistant Attorney General Scott Leary said attorneys from the his office will assist in the prosecution.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at email@example.com.