National News

Nov 7, 2013 1:53 PM by AP

2nd arrest made in killing of Mississippi family

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A second suspect was arrested and charged in the abduction and killing of a Mississippi woman and her 7-year-old son, authorities said Thursday.

Cedric D. Mason, 30, of Jackson, was arrested late Wednesday on two counts of capital murder and two counts of kidnapping, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a news release. Authorities said they are still trying to piece together exactly what happened.

MBI spokesman Warren Strain said Thursday in a statement Mason was arrested about 9:30 p.m. in Jackson by MBI agents, the U.S. Marshals Task Force, Jackson police and others.

Police responded to the family's wrecked and burned vehicle Saturday in a remote area southwest of Jackson. They later questioned Timothy Ladell Burns and authorities said he led them early Tuesday to the bodies at an abandoned home about a mile from the vehicle.

Burns has been charged with two counts of murder and arson. His court-appointed attorney, M.A. Bass, said Thursday he hasn't met with Burns and that Burns might next appear in court in December. Mason does not yet have an attorney.

All three victims had gunshot wounds. Slain were 7-year-old Jaidon Hill, 30-year-old Atira Hughes-Smith and 34-year-old Laterry Smith. Hughes-Smith is the boy's mother. Relatives said the couple was recently married.

Neither Burns nor Mason has been charged in the killing of Laterry Smith, which officials said took place in Jackson. Authorities say charges are expected later.

"The preliminary investigation indicates Laterry Smith was murdered in a house in southwest Jackson. The crimes were committed in Hinds and Copiah counties and the district attorneys in those jurisdictions are conferring on the best manner to move forward with the prosecution of Mason and Burns," Strain said.

Investigators have not discussed a motive for the killings or said whether Burns and Mason knew the family. Strain said investigators continue to gather evidence.

"We have theories, but the investigation will ferret out the facts," Strain said Wednesday.

Sheriff Jones has said he believed Burns was driving at the time of the wreck and then tried to burn the vehicle. It's unclear whether the victims were in the vehicle when it crashed.

On Monday, police recovered items linked to the family in a trash bin at a gasoline station in south Jackson, including clothing and Hughes-Smith's work identification card from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Strain said authorities began watching Burns at a south Jackson motel Monday and arrested him around 11:30 p.m. when he went to a gas station.


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