Officials with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department discovered a body at a hunting ground off Texas Flat Road Friday evening, Hancock County Chief Deputy Jeremy Skinner said.
Skinner said the body was discovered while authorities assisted the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and Picayune Police Department in a search of the area.
Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said investigators were led to the area in Hancock County through the department’s investigation into the case of missing Picayune man, 28-year-old Willie Ray Jones.
Jones was last seen in Picayune on July 6.
Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage said that the identity of the deceased has not yet been determined.
“We had to send the body to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Pearl, which won’t be open until Monday” Turnage said.
Turnage said that positive identification will have to be made through DNA.
While investigating Jones’ disappearance, the Picayune Police Department identified Dustin, 24, and wife Erica Gray, 21, as persons of interest.
The Picayune Item on Wednesday, July 15 reported that U.S. Marshals took the Grays into custody in Pueblo County, Colorado on warrants for possession of stolen firearms.
In a Facebook post, the Picayune Police Department stated that law enforcement officials from Picayune and the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department traveled to Pueblo County, Colorado to interview the Grays.
As a result of the investigation, Allison said authorities identified another suspect in the case, 18-year-old Austin Brookshire, who was arrested and charged with murder on Friday.
Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk assisted Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage at the scene. Faulk said the body and any evidence has been transferred to Pearl River County where officials believe the murder occurred.
Anyone with information related to Jones’ disappearance can contact the Picayune Police Department at 601-798-7411, 601-337-6544, or 601-916-9411.
Tips can be submitted anonymously by calling Pearl River County Crime Stoppers at 601-799-CLUE or online. Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1-877-787-5898.