The bodies of a Mississippi family that had been missing since sometime Saturday were discovered Tuesday in a secluded, abandoned house which was nearly 40 miles southwest of Jackson, MS, stated Ellis Stuart, the coroner of Copiah County. Missing were Laterry Smith, age 34, his wife Atire Hughes-Smith, age 30 and her son Jaidon Hill, age 7.
Stuart explained that they recovered the three bodies and it was believed they were Smith, Hughes-Smith, and Hill. He stated that they did not have positive ID’s as of yet. However, the bodies were being sent to the Mississippi medical examiner’s office for autopsies. All three had been shot and had been dead a few days.
The last time anyone heard from them was from a phone call right after midnight on Saturday from Hughes-Smith talking to her mother. She told her she would be traveling out of town for a couple of days. For some reason that call got cut off and when her mother tried to reach her again, the call went to voice mail. When Hughes-Smith persisted in being unreachable, relatives called the police.
It was later on Saturday morning, when the family’s SUV was discovered upside down around 60 miles away inside a ditch out in the rural part of Copiah County. The local sheriff, Harold Jones, said the SUV was impaired in a way that made it look like the occupants had most likely been hurt.
The SUV had also been set on fire but the family was nowhere around. The police began checking the woods near the car and also the local hospitals.
Nothing turned up until Monday when a Jackson, MS man was arrested for the Mississippi family going missing and then being found dead.
Timothy Lydell Burns, age 42, was arrested, stated Sheriff Jones. He was able to lead investigators to the old home close to where the upturned SUV was discovered. There is no information on how police were able to track down Burns as the alleged killer.
Hughes-Smith’s wallet, bloody clothes and photo ID from her job were among various items found on Monday in a convenience store trash can about 40 miles from where the SUV was found, but was close to her mother’s and sisters’ homes, Jackson police explained. Investigators searched through the house and Hughes-Smith’s family then moved out on Sunday evening.
A hospital spokesman where Hughes-Smith worked confirmed that the woman worked at the hospital but did not show up for work on Monday.
A friend, Penny King, confirmed the story of Hughes-Smith telling her mother she was leaving town. She stated that the woman told her mother on Friday that she was going out of town because something had just come up. She told her mother that the family was going to visit some of Laterry’s family on business.
King said she did know have any idea what Smith did for employment, and added that the couple had only been married for a couple of months.
King described Hughes-Smith as being very quiet and that her son, Hill, was the center of her life. She said it was very hard for her to believe that the Mississippi family had gone missing, and then to have been found dead, and in such a brutal manner.
By Kimberly Ruble