Authorities are investigating the possibility of a connection between a shooting on Monday and the discovery of a body Friday morning in Newton County.

Ken Copeland, sheriff of Newton County, said authorities believe the two incidents are linked, and may be tied to a local group called the Joplin Honkies. 

A man whose body was discovered Friday morning in the driveway of a northern Newton County home had a Joplin Honkie tattoo, Copeland said.

“We identified him by the tattoos and through his jail records,” said the sheriff.

The name of the victim is not being released pending the notification of family members. 

An autopsy was underway Friday in Springfield. There were no visible signs of the cause of death on the body or at the scene, a driveway in the 1300 block of Route V.

“It could have been a drug overdose. It looks like he was dumped there,” he said.

The sheriff said medical examiners might be able to determine a cause of death quickly, but any conclusion will take longer if it relies on toxicology results.

Copeland said investigators are looking into a link between the discovered body and the shooting of Thomas “Tommy” Webb, 44, of Joplin. Webb was found Monday with two bullet holes in his body after he pulled into a driveway in the 3500 block of Cherry Road and began honking his horn.

In both incidents, Copeland said “we think we’re are looking at Honkies or people who are involved with them.”

Copeland said Webb has not cooperated in the investigation of the shooting, giving offers at least three versions of events. He said officers served a search warrant and learned through other sources who they believe to be the assailant in the incident.

But since Webb is refusing to cooperate, he is uncertain whether charges will be filed in the shooting.

“Our problem is, we don’t have a complainant,” he said.

Webb currently is under guard at Freeman Health System and will be discharged soon. When he is released, he will be returned to the Newton County jail on a parole violation.

Webb was convicted of three felony drug counts in Jasper County and was sentenced to seven years in prison in February 2012, according to court records. After receiving long-term drug treatment in prison, he was released on parole Jan. 18.

Tattoo code

Copeland said those known as Joplin Honkies often are identified by the Joplin Honkies tattoo, or the tattoo 417, signifying the area code of Southwest Missouri.

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