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Bodies Of Mississippi Family Found In Abandoned House

4:27 PM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
An abandoned house in rural Mississippi where the bodies of a Jackson-area family were found Nov. 5, 2013.
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Ruth Ingram, The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger

HAZLEHURST, Miss. - The bodies of a family missing since early Saturday were found Tuesday in an abandoned, secluded house about 40 miles southwest of Jackson, Miss., the Copiah County coroner said.

The last time that Judy Hughes of Brandon, Miss., heard from her daughter, Atira Hughes-Smith of Brandon, was in a phone call right after midnight Saturday saying she was going out of town for a few days, cousin Vinson Jenkins said. The call was cut off; when Hughes tried to call back, the attempt went to voice mail, and when Hughes continued to be unreachable, relatives called police.

Later Saturday morning, the family's car was found on its roof about 60 miles away in a ditch in rural Copiah County's Carpenter community. Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones said the sport-utility vehicle was damaged in a way that its occupants likely were injured.

Someone also had attempted to burn the vehicle, but the family - Jaidon Hill, 7; Hughes-Smith, 30; and Laterry Smith, 34 - were nowhere to be found, Jones said. Authorities checked the woods surrounding the car and area hospitals.

"We have recovered three bodies," Coroner Ellis Stewart said Tuesday. "We believe it to be the three people that have been missing. We don't have a positive ID yet. The bodies are being sent to the Mississippi medical examiners office for an autopsy." All three were shot and had been dead a few days.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrested suspect Timothy Lydell Burns, 42, Tuesday in Jackson, Miss. Burns led authorities to the house where the bodies were found.

Jones would not say if or how Burns was connected to the family. Authorities have not released a motive in the homicides.

Hughes-Smith was a nursing assistant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson who often works the night shift, her cousin said. Her son was a student at StoneBridge Elementary School in Brandon.

Her husband - Hughes-Smith and Smith had been married only a few months - worked construction putting up drywall, according to his Facebook page.

Hughes-Smith's picture identification badge and wallet were among items discovered Monday in a convenience store trash bin about 40 miles from the car but close to the home where Smith's mother and two sisters were living, Jackson police said. Authorities searched the home; reportedly, Smith's mother and sisters moved out Sunday night.

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