By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Two suspects identified early in the investigation of a Lafayette County homicide were arrested Friday by the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Task Force.
Xavier Benson, 21, was reported missing Sunday, June 9, and his body was found Tuesday, June 11 in the West Spring Hill community between Oxford and Batesville. An autopsy showed he was killed by a single bullet wound, probably from a handgun, in the upper torso.
Marshals took Anthony Darrel Smith, 29, of Abbeville, and Alison Raynetta Alexander, 29, of Champaign, Ill., into custody in Jackson on Friday without incident, Investigator Alan Wilburn of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department said. Both suspects were returned to the Lafayette County Detention Center.
“Anthony Smith is charged with murder and felon in possession of a firearm; bond was set at $1 million,” Wilburn said. Alexander, he added, was charged with murder, and her bond was set at $500,000.
A third suspect, Robert Smith, 46, who was identified by law enforcement as Anthony Smith’s uncle, is charged with accessory after the fact. His bond was set at $10,000.
Because of the ongoing investigation involving the Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and other agencies, officials are being conservative in the information they release.
Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy said MBI investigators recovered evidence at a nearby house of a shooting, though ballistic tests to see whether they tie to Benson’s death might be weeks or months away.
Kennedy said it appeared Benson died where his body was found.
“None of the signs point to his being killed somewhere else and brought there. The area we found him was relatively undisturbed,” Kennedy said.
“It didn’t appear there was any struggle,” he added.