Fire death being investigated as suspicious

News Briefs From Across The State

By Monica Land

Body burned beyond recognition

Authorities in Lucedale said they are still working to identify a person killed in a suspicious fire in George County last week.

One person was found dead inside a home destroyed by the fire on Thursday, Aug. 2. Shonna Pierce, public information officer at the George County Sheriff's Office, told The Mississippi Press the body was burned so badly that investigators on the scene couldn't tell if it was a man or woman.

The case is being investigated as a suspicious death by multiple agencies, including the George County Sheriff's Office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, the State Fire Marshal and District Attorney Tony Lawrence's office.

Pierce said the body is currently in the Jackson crime laboratory, where an autopsy will be performed.

Lynda Steele returns to MDCC

Lynda Steele, a retired junior college administrator, has been hired as interim president of Mississippi Delta Community College (MDCC). A former MDCC administrator, Steele will lead the 3,500-student two-year school until a permanent replacement can be found for Larry Bailey.

Bailey retired June 1 and Steele took over then.

Frank Dantone, a Greenville attorney who leads the presidential search committee, said the college hopes to hire a permanent president within six months. Steele won’t be a candidate for president.

Bailey announced he was stepping down in an email to employees in April and said retirement would allow him to spend more time with his family and to pursue other goals.

Bailey spent 19 years at MDCC, eight as dean of academic affairs and the last 11 as president.

Indiana man sentenced in Miss. cigarette case

Authorities said an Indiana man has been sentenced to six months of house arrest for making false records related to cigarette sales in Mississippi.

Authorities said in a news release that 56-year-old Jack Settles of Indianapolis was sentenced in U.S. District in Aberdeen. He pleaded guilty in January to one count of making false records.

In addition to home confinement, Settles must serve three years on supervised release, pay a $40,000 fine and forfeit $160,000.

He is one of at least a dozen people prosecuted for acquiring cigarettes in Mississippi to avoid paying federal and state taxes.

Man pleads guilty to possession of meth

A man has pleaded guilty in Mississippi to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Court records said Charles Thomas Davis pleaded guilty to one count Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

An Aug. 20 trial is scheduled for another man also charged in the case.

Court records said the men possessed more than 50 grams of the drug in September 2010.

Marshall County to sell bonds for Interstate 269

The Marshall County Industrial Development Authority will sell $163 million in bonds this fall to help build Interstate 269. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) said the money will be enough to complete the highway in Marshall County.

Under state law, local governments can advance money to the department to speed up highway construction, with the state paying off the debt using federal money.

The authority issued $52 million in bonds in October 2007 to begin work.

When finished, I-269 will be a 30-mile bypass around Memphis through Tennessee and Mississippi. It will connect with Interstates 55, 40 and 69. The new I-69 is being developed from the Canadian border in Michigan to the Mexican border in Texas. Only short segments are currently open.