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Tuesday
Nov052013

Suspect Leads Cops to Missing Family's Bodies

Copiah County Sheriff's Department(JACKSON, Miss.) -- A Mississippi man has been arrested in the deaths of a Brandon, Miss., mother, her young son and her husband. The family had vanished without a trace after a car wreck over the weekend.

The bodies of Atira Hill, 30, her son, Jaidon, 7, and her husband, Laterry Smith, 34, were found Tuesday morning, a relative told ABC News.

Timothy Lydell Burns, 42, of Jackson, Miss., was arrested Tuesday, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones told ABC's Jackson, Miss., affiliate WAPT-TV.

The family members had last been seen driving in their car on Friday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said in a statement.

Their abandoned, smoldering, tan Dodge SUV was found upside down in a ditch in Hermanville, Miss., Saturday morning, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones told ABC News Monday, but the family had not been seen or heard from since Friday.

Burns led investigators to an old home near the rural area where the family's overturned car had been found. Inside the home, law enforcement officials found the bodies of the three family members, who had all been shot, WAPT-TV reported.

Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart told ABC News that the family's bodies were sent to the Mississippi State Medical Examiner's Office in Jackson, where an autopsy will take place.

Stuart confirmed the bodies appeared to have gunshot wounds, but declined to say where the mother, her son and her husband had been shot.

Penny King, who is a relative of Atira Hill, told ABC News that the family was found dead but that she didn't "know all the particulars yet."

Officer Colendula Green, a spokeswoman for the Jackson Police Department, told ABC News that three bodies were found early Tuesday morning but declined to comment further.

On Monday afternoon, investigators were seen collecting items from a dumpster at a Shell gas station in Jackson, Miss., reported WAPT-TV. Among the items were bloody clothes and Hill's ID badge from her job at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, WAPT-TV reported.

A hospital spokesman had confirmed earlier to ABC News that an Atira Hill-Smith worked at the hospital but had not shown up for work on Monday.

King said she last spoke with Hill a week ago but knew of a "strange" conversation that Hill had with her mother.

"Atira told her mother on Friday that she was going out of town and something had just come up," King said. "She said that they were going to see some of Laterry's people about some business."

King said she did not know what Smith did professionally, adding the couple had only been married a few months and Smith "did not come around much."

ABC News' calls to the Copiah County Sheriff's Department were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio