Woman shot, dumped in street dies, two boys suspected
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:00 PM
An elderly woman known for years as the neighborhood grandmother because of her nylon hose, apron and genuine love of children, was murdered, the police say, allegedly by two boys for whom she had cared. She was shot inside her car and dumped on Lewis Avenue last Wednesday morning.
Law enforcement and other first responders examine the scene of an accident after the owner of the car, an elderly woman, was dumped on Lewis Avenue where firemen, above, washed blood from the street.
The two males, ages 20 and 16, wrecked the car a short time later on nearby Gum Street, Philadelphia police said.
Mrs. Della “Cecil” Smiley Donald, 80, was taken by ambulance to the county hospital shortly after 8:30 a.m. where she was pronounced dead.
The two men were taken to the hospital and later airlifted to the University Medical Center in critical condition, Police Chief Grant Myers said, noting that they have not been released from the hospital.
“We believe the victim was shot by the suspects while all three where in the car,” Myers said.
Officers initially responded to a report that a woman was struck by a car on Lewis Avenue.
Moments later a call came in reporting a wreck on Gum Street.
“Officers arrived on scene of Lewis to find the female in the street, who was later pronounced dead,” Myers said.
Neshoba County Medical Examiner John Stephens said it appeared Mrs. Boler had been shot one time.
He is awaiting autopsy results.
Investigators with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are assisting police in the case.
Mrs. Donald lived on the corner of Loper Street and Pearl Avenue.
She was known as the neighborhood grandmother to the numerous children who would stop by her house most days for a drink and small snack, Mayor James A. Young said.
“She pretty much raised those two boys,” Young said of the two boys in her car. “It is just a tragedy that they made those choices.”
Young said the community was devastated by her death.
“Words just can’t describe it,” he said. “She was a great lady. She was quiet and didn’t mess with anybody. Again, it is double hard to lose her this way.”
Dorothy Brown had known Mrs. Donald for about 40 years. She lived across the street from her for the past 14 or 15 years.
“It just won’t be the same without Ms. Cecil. It just won’t ever be the same. I’m just in total, total disbelief,” Brown said.
She said Mrs. Donald’s life revolved around her family.
“She loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and she loved her church,” Brown said.
Mrs. Donald loved talking to children about the Lord. Many years ago, she hosted little Bible studies in her home for the children.
“We sent our children to listen to Ms. Cecil’s Bible class,” Brown said.
She recalled how she would go to her house when she needed something as small as a needle and thread, safety pin or a stamp.
Brown said her younger neighbors wouldn’t have such items in their homes.
“She was always so happy to have those little things to give to me,” she said.
Despite her age, Mrs. Donald walked around her block every morning wearing her nylon hose and an apron.
She got along well with her neighbors and still drove her car.
“I never, never ever thought this would happen,” Brown said. “I have seen a lot of things in my 65 years, some tragic, tragic things, believe me. But this is something that I just can not picture. It is just hard for me to comprehend Ms. Cecil leaving this world like that.”
Services were Saturday at 1 p.m. from Lighthouse Church of God with Minister Bettie McCarty officiating.
Burial was at Donald Rest Cemetery. Beck Funeral Home, Inc. was in charge of arrangements.
Mrs. Donald is survived by six children, Linda Backstrom, Dorothy Collier, Janet Hall and Ronnie Donald, all of Philadelphia, Freeman Donald of Fairburn, Ga. and Douglas Donald of Pflugerville, Texas; seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren,
Pallbearers were: Marlon Evans, Lee Author Coleman, Stanley Greer, Mitchell Talley, Earl Caples and Justin Roberts.