William Hunt: Convicted murderer gets 136 years for trying to blow up ex-girlfriend's house

Although William Ples Hunt was convicted of murder during the 1980s, he was later granted parole after blowing the whistle on a corrupt prison.

So what did Hunt do with his second chance? He wasted it by trying to blow up his ex-girlfriend's house -- an act for which he's been sentenced to 136 years in stir.

Hunt used a shotgun to kill Billy Jordan, a Columbus, Mississippi lawyer, in 1985. According to the editor of a Columbus newspaper who spoke to the Denver Post several years back, Jordan was so disliked that "anyone in the stadium attending a University of Mississippi football game could have been his killer." But Hunt left a business card at the scene of the crime, which quickly narrowed the list of suspects to one. He was handed a life sentence.

How'd Hunt get out of prison? In the 1990s, while working as a clerk at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, located in Parchman, he began to gather data about what a February 1995 Memphis Commercial Appeal article described as "a thriving illegal drug trade" and "pervasive gang activities" in the facility. His info reportedly helped spur a five-month investigation into the prison system as a whole that resulted in the sacking of forty prison employees for falsifying job applications plus two guards who allegedly tried to smuggle narcotics into Parchman.

As for Hunt, he was placed in protective custody at another prison -- and by 2002, he'd been released and moved to Colorado.

Cut to July 2005, when authorities in Arapahoe County received a phone call from friends of Sheryl Personett, 48. They were concerned about her safety, and according to the Post, they had every reason to be. Personett told officers Hunt, her former boyfriend, had threatened to kill her. Shortly thereafter, they located a U-Haul truck loaded with a seventeen fuel containers about a block away -- and they also found Hunt, hiding in the bushes behind a house.

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Officers believed Hunt was drunk, although it was hard to tell, since he had apparently doused himself in gasoline. Their theory: He planned to trigger an explosion that would have consumed Personett, the house she shared with her daughter and a roommate, and, presumably, him. But he had to abandon the truck after being overcome by the fumes.

The vehicle was considered so dangerous that twenty homes in the neighborhood were evacuated for the lion's share of a day before it could be rendered safe.

The path to justice wasn't swift. Last November, Hunt was convicted on three counts of felony menacing, possession of an explosive/incendiary device, second-degree assault, stalking and attempted first-degree arson -- but the jury was hung on charges of attempted first-degree murder. However, the case was retried in April, and that jury agreed the attempted murder beefs were justified.

Hunt has now been sentenced to 136 years -- meaning that no matter how much corruption he finds in the prison where he's sent, he's unlikely to get out again.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Simon Salinas: Gangsta gets 36 years for beating woman, ordering another attack on her from jail."

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