LITHONIA, GA — On May 18, 1998, Barbara Mikell, 45, checked into a seedy roadside motel and never checked out.
The next day her body was discovered with three gunshot wounds to the head. There were no signs of sexual assault or robbery.
Barbara’s unfaithful husband, Perry Mikell, was arrested and convicted of the murder, based largely on circumstancial evidence.
Retired homicide detective Chris Anderson and criminal defense attorney Fatima Silva have been called in by Perry’s sister, Lydia; and fiancée, also named Barbara; who are convinced he is an innocent man.
Perry’s current fiancée, who has been engaged to Perry for 18 years, believes: “That’s what he’s guilty of; it’s the affairs. It’s not murder,” while stating that he’s been forgiven for his past actions. The couple’s engagement is one issue that troubles those who believe that Perry is guilty of murdering his wife — they started dating only six months after the homicide.
On the phone with Chris Anderson, Perry admits to five affairs during his marriage to the victim, but claims that she only knew about one of them, and that the couple talked the conflict over reasonably, with no fighting. He also points out that that occurred three years before the murder. Interestingly, with at least one of Perry’s mistresses, the would meet up in the same motel where Barbara was killed.
When Anderson asks Lydia to describe a bad trait of her brother Perry, she reveals that he’s a know-it-all who feels as if he’s smarter than everyone else. However, his fiancée says that she “sees no bad traits in him.”
As far as the crime he’s been convicted of, Lydia is confident that it would have been impossible for Perry to have committed the crime in the time frame allotted. After attempting to complete the same timeline in the time allotted, Anderson concedes that while maybe not impossible, it seems very unlikely.
Additionally, Lydia claims the bullets found at the scene didn’t match Perry’s gun. An independent ballistics expert agrees that the bullets had not been fired by any gun that belonged to Perry.
Anderson met with the original case investigator, who revealed that one of the main reasons he became suspicious of Perry was that when he was notified that his wife had been murdered, he didn’t display any reaction or even ask any questions about what had happened.
Silva met with the victim’s family. Barbara’s son, Leslie, referred to his mother as “his conscience” and says that she was “his everything.” When Silva reveals that the manager of the motel claimed that he had seen Barbara there before, with different men, her family refuses to believe it, and say that she “didn’t believe in that,” and that she “wasn’t that kind of person.”
Interestingly, Barbara paid for the motel room with the joint credit card she shared with Perry, so if she in fact were trying to meet someone secretly, presumably Perry would have found out eventually.
Perry’s fiancée, Barbara, gets emotional as she imagines what her life with Perry would be like if he were free. It’d be “wonderful, full of joy,” she says, and reveals that every time she goes to church, she leaves a space next to her, where Perry should be sitting.
Was Perry Mikell wrongfully convicted? Was he really at work all day, as he claims? Or, since he’s a serial cheater and proven liar, is he in fact guilty of this crime?
Watch the “Truck Driver’s Wife” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Reasonable Doubt on ID GO to learn what Chris and Fatima think!
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Main photo: Joseph Perry Mikell [Central State Prison]