A connection between a Louisiana prison scam and the 1987 slayings of a Mississippi judge and his wife has been made in a indictment that points to a reputed hitman as the suspected killer.

Vincent and Margaret Sherry were shot to death Sept. 14, 1987, in their home in Biloxi. The judge was shot three times in the face, and his wife four times in the head. Authorities said the same .22-caliber pistol was used.The indictment, returned last week after a 20-week grand jury investigation, alleges that the Sherrys may have been killed because Vincent Sherry wasn't keeping up his end of a scam in which Louisiana prison inmates preyed on outsiders. The indictment was made public Tuesday.

Louisiana prison inmate Bobby Joe Fabian, a convicted murderer, has said inmates believed the judge skimmed about $400,000 from a scam that ran personal ads in homosexual magazines and newspapers. Respondents to the ads, believing they were contacting a potential lover, were sent photos of attractive young men and were eventually asked to send money.

The four-count indictment alleges that Kirksey McCord Nix Jr., now serving a life sentence in Louisiana for murder; Mike Gillich Jr., a Biloxi strip-joint owner; John Ransom, jailed in Georgia for murder; and LaRa Sharpe, a former legal secretary to current Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat, participated in the scam.