Two suspects now in custody in family killings case

Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones speaks to reporters following a Copiah County Justice Court appearance by Timothy Lydell Burns, the man investigators say they suspect in the deaths of three family members. A second man, Cedric D. Mason, has now been charged. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones speaks to reporters following a Copiah County Justice Court appearance by Timothy Lydell Burns, the man investigators say they suspect in the deaths of three family members. A second man, Cedric D. Mason, has now been charged. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Jack Elliott Jr. and Jeff Amy

Associated Press

JACKSON – A second suspect has been arrested and charged in the abduction and killing of a Mississippi woman and her 7-year-old son, authorities said Thursday.

Cedric D. Mason, 30, of Jackson, was arrested late Wednesday and charged with two counts each of capital murder and kidnapping, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Mason is charged in the deaths of Atira Hughes-Smith and her 7-year-old son, Jaidon Hill.

Police responded to the family’s wrecked and burned vehicle Saturday in a remote area southwest of Jackson. After finding clothing and Hughes-Smith’s work ID in a gas station trash bin, state agents arrested Timothy L. Burns late Monday and charged him with two counts of murder and arson.

Authorities said Burns led authorities to the bodies of Hughes-Smith and her son at an abandoned home about a mile from the vehicle. The body of Laterry Smith, whom relatives said had recently married Hughes-Smith, was also found. However, neither Mason nor Burns has been charged in that death.

M.A. Bass, Burns’ court-appointed attorney, said Thursday he hasn’t met with Burns yet and that Burns might next appear in court in December. Mason does not yet have an attorney.

MBI spokesman Warren Strain said police would not comment on a possible motive.

“It’s all still part of the investigation,” said MBI spokesman Warren Strain said.

Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart said Thursday that preliminary autopsy reports showed the boy died from a shotgun wound to the back, while Hughes-Smith died from multiple shotgun wounds. Smith had multiple bullet wounds, but not from a shotgun.