JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Jackson police on Tuesday found the body of a 17-year-old girl they say was kidnapped and shot during the weekend.
Katelyn Beard’s body was found in a rural area north of Jackson, shortly after police found some of her clothes.
Jackson Police Department spokeswoman Colendula Green said Dewayne Thompson, 19, was captured Monday and initially charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping and auto theft. The aggravated assault charge was upgraded to capital murder after Beard’s body was found.
Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance said Thompson helped in the search for Beard.
“The motive is unclear,” Vance said in a video posted to The Clarion-Ledger website (http://on.thec-l.com/1w3wMPx ). “The only thing he’s indicated, that they were consuming drugs together. But more specifically why he committed this murder — he hasn’t told us that.”
Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said Beard’s body was left near a road and was not buried.
Mississippi Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert on Sunday night for Beard.
Jackson police found her car, with a Greene County license plate, Monday morning in west Jackson, less than a mile from where she was taken. Thompson was arrested hours later after he was found in a vacant home nearby.
It was not immediately clear whether Thompson has an attorney.
Beard’s mother, Melissa Keys, told The Clarion-Ledger that her daughter had met Thompson online and had known him no more than 10 days.
“She loved meeting people and being friends, she was the type of person that would go to any extent to make a friend with anyone. She searched really hard to find true friends and true love,” Keys said.
Beard’s family had just sent her money to come home, Keys said. Keys said her daughter — the oldest of eight children — had always called home if she needed help in the past.
“It’s very hard, because that was my baby and I had her as a young mother. So many times before she’s called and said, ‘Don’t be mad, please come get me,'” Keys said. “I kept waiting, and I wanted that phone call so bad, and I didn’t get it this time.”
Beard’s grandmother, Pat Eubanks of Florence, issued a statement thanking police for their work on the case, according to WLBT-TV (http://bit.ly/1vKSV7Y ).
“The devastation we feel about the loss of Katelyn and the events that have unfolded the past few days are unparalleled by anything we have been through before,” Eubanks said.