Sheriff: Man to be Charged With Murder in Mississippi Family’s Deaths

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    (CNN) — A 42-year-old man will soon face murder charges in the deaths of a mother, stepfather and 7-year-old boy found in a wooded area — apart from their burning car and bloodied clothes — a Mississippi sheriff said Wednesday.

    Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones said he expects Timothy Burns to be charged in the deaths of Atira Hill, Laterry Smith and young Jaidon Hill “probably in the next day or so, a week at the latest.”

    Added Jones: “We’re going to fast-track this.”

    There’s no indication the suspect had anything against the three victims, the sheriff noted, nor that he even knew them.

    “We don’t think there is (a relationship),” Jones said. “But we haven’t tied that loose end up yet.”

    The seeming randomness of the crime makes the deaths all the more inexplicable to loved ones, as well as to neighbors in the city of Brandon they called home.

    As Vinson Jenkins, Hill’s cousin, said: “We don’t know why anybody would want to do any harm to them.”

    The family was last seen Friday in a car that was later found flipped and on fire.

    The Copiah County sheriff says authorities now believe that Jones was driving that car when he got in an accident, then set it ablaze. Was he alone at the time? Jones said he has “no way of knowing that right now.”

    After finding the vehicle, investigators found bloody clothes belonging to the victims next to a gas station trash bin. Then their three bodies were found, all shot to death, according to Jones.

    Authorities initially arrested Burns on suspicion of arson, said Jones, and also held him for “investigative purposes” in connection with the killings.

    It was not immediately clear whether Burns had retained a lawyer. He was being held at the jail in Copiah County, which is southwest of Jackson.

    According to CNN affiliate WAPT, Jaidon was a student at Stonebridge Elementary School in Brandon, a city of some 22,000 people about 15 miles east of Jackson.

    His teacher Jennifer Owen recalled his omnipresent smile, big eyelashes and how he’d “concentrate on his work so hard that his little tongue would stick out the whole time.”

    The boy’s great-grandfather Sidney Kersh told WAPT that he and others were heartbroken as they tried to make sense of the deaths, especially that of young Jaidon.

    “He was my heart, and he was so innocent,” Kersh said. “I just hate for him to have to be caught up in this.”

    CNN’s Gary Tuchman reported from Gallman, Mississippi, and CNN’s Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Dana Ford, Leah Smith and Meridith Edwards contributed to this report.

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