4th person charged in connection to body found in Lamar Co. freezer

The sheriff said Burns’ body was found in a freezer inside his own home on Purvis Oloh Road. (Photo source: WDAM)
The sheriff said Burns’ body was found in a freezer inside his own home on Purvis Oloh Road. (Photo source: WDAM)
The coroner has identified the victim as 54-year-old Thomas Burns. (Photo source: Facebook)
The coroner has identified the victim as 54-year-old Thomas Burns. (Photo source: Facebook)

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A fourth person has been arrested as investigators work to piece together a timeline after a man was found dead in a freezer in his own home.

Lamar County deputies responded to the home on Purvis-Oloh Road Tuesday after a family member reported finding the body in chest freezer. The coroner has identified the victim as 54-year-old Thomas Burns.

"It's a pretty complex investigation,"  Sheriff Danny Rigel said.

Sheriff Danny Rigel said James Simmons, 59, of Purvis was arrested Wednesday.  He has been charged with two counts of grand larceny, as well as a probation violation.

Three others have been arrested in connection to the case:

  • Samantha Simmons, 31, of Purvis - charged with grand larceny over $25,000
  • Andy Hartfield, 51, of Purvis - charged with receiving stolen property
  • Will Bryson, 23, of Purvis - charged with receiving stolen property

Rigel said James and Samantha Simmons are cousins.

Bond has been denied for Samantha Simmons, James Simmons and Andy Hartfield.  Bond was set at $10,000 for Will Bryson Thursday.

"A lot of property has been stolen from the residence, we think in conjunction with the murder and we are in the process of recovering that," said Rigel.

Rigel said Simmons was out on bond for a grand larceny charge when taken into custody Tuesday.  He said he anticipates more arrests and charges to come.

"We are waiting on autopsy results and lab results to determine the actual cause of death, right now we don't know what the actual cause of death is," Rigel said.  "Hopefully that will lead to further charges."

Burns was reported missing to authorities Monday, but Rigel said the body appears to have been in the freezer for a while.

"We're talking to different relatives and different friends and we are still trying to identify them, because people are calling in and saying 'well I knew him and I talked to him on this date.'  We are trying to do a timeline," said Rigel.  "The minimum that we have come up with so far is probably two weeks, but it can probably be longer than that."

Rigel said that "every indication was that this is going to be a murder."

Rigel is asking anyone with information to help investigators, or someone who has spoken with Burns within the last month of so, to call the Lamar County Sheriff's Office at (601) 794-1005.