Man alleges he was involved in a 1995 murder in Pike Co.; Family hopes it leads to an arrest

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 11:05 PM CDT
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PIKE COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - A Maryland mother is still searching for justice after her son was killed in Mississippi in May of 1995.

Donald Lee Izzett Jr., 19, is believed to have been killed in Fernwood, which is a small town in Pike County. On Tuesday, a small crowd gathered to celebrate and remember Izzett.

“I can’t even think of the words to describe it, to know the details of everything that happened. I play it back in my mind over and over what they did to him,” said Debra Skelley, Izzett’s mother.

Izzett was a freshman at Frostburg State University in Maryland. Family and friends said the teen came to Mississippi with a friend from back home.

“Donnie went with his friend, Shane Guenther, to California to help move,” said Jennifer Glotfelty, who’s a family friend. “Mr. Guenther was moving to California, and from there they were coming to Mississippi supposedly to get some dogs, some belongings that he had here at his families.”

She said the two men made it to Pike County, where Guenther’s family lived and owned some land. Not long after they made it to Mississippi, she said they got into an argument and Guenther shot and killed Izzett.

“Donnie’s body was placed on a firepit and burned at a high temperature,” said Glotfelty.

In 2019, 24 years later, what are believed to be Izzett’s remains were found along Hill Road in Fernwood. The person who helped family and investigators find the location is Kyle Barnes.

He alleges he helped Guenther dispose of the body.

“I helped him that night have a bonfire, and we burned the body, and the next day he drove me back to New Orleans and I flew home,” said Barnes. “I never talked to anybody about it, nobody ever asked me about it, nobody ever talked to me about it until 24 years later.”

That’s when Skelley found him after doing her own investigation to crack her son’s cold case; a cold case Barnes is wanting solved by telling investigators the role he played.

“If I have to go to jail or whatever, I’m ok with it,” said Barnes. “He deserved a life, and he didn’t deserve to be taken at 19.”

Barnes said he remained quiet all of these years because he wanted to protect Guenther, who at the time was his best friend.

“I should have said something back then and I didn’t,” said Barnes. “I didn’t have the strength.”

Barnes said he offered his testimony to investigators at the service on Tuesday. However, family members claim they chose not to accept it.

Now, devastated that an arrest has yet to come, family and friends are remaining optimistic that one will come sooner rather than later.

“I will see justice for my son,” Skelley expressed. “He deserves justice.” In 2019, A wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Guenther, who now lives in Washington State.

An out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money was reached.

We spoke with Pike County District Attorney Dee Bates, who was at the service on Tuesday along with Pike County Sheriff James Brumfield.

Bates said he can’t comment on the investigation, only saying that it’s ongoing.

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