Sunken car, man’s death connected

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BROOKHAVEN – Area law enforcement officials say a car foundsubmerged in Lake Lincoln Friday morning matches the descriptionand license plate number of one involved in a Copiah County man’skilling and car theft earlier in the day.

James Smith, 53, of 2072 Perrett Road, near Hazlehurst, wasfound dead in his front yard at approximately 4:10 a.m. with asingle gunshot wound to the head, Copiah County Sheriff HaroldJones said. Authorities said Smith’s car, a gold 2002 Saturn SLIwith a Mississippi disabled license plate, was stolen from thescene.

A 2002 gold Saturn four-door vehicle with a disabled CopiahCounty tag was pulled from Lake Lincoln Friday about 6:30 a.m. Noone was in the car, nor was there anyone else associated with thevehicle at the scene, emergency workers said.

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Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said the vehicle, whichbore the same license plate number as the car stolen after Smith’sslaying, returned a hit as a stolen car from the National CrimeInformation Center.

“We got a hit from Copiah County that it was listed as a stolenvehicle,” he said.

Rushing said NCIC did not include any additional informationabout the incident.

Lincoln and Copiah County authorities are working together todetermine the details of the investigation.

The motive for the shooting is still a part of the ongoingprobe, Jones said. An undisclosed amount of money was left at thescene, however, leading authorities to question whether robbery wasa motive.

“It just happened at four this morning, and my investigators areworking on it now,” said Jones. “We are very early on in this.”

Emergency workers on the scene at Lake Lincoln said there didnot seem to be a driver in the vicinity. Rushing confirmed that thecar was abandoned.

Jones said authorities are looking for a white male of mediumbuild, approximately 20 to 30 years old, in connection with theshooting.

The sheriff said Smith’s wife came home while the alleged cartheft and shooting were in progress.

After the man shot at the woman, she fled the scene and called911 from her vehicle. Copiah County deputies responding to the callfound Smith dead in his yard and his car missing, Jones said.