The Purvis woman who murdered a man and disposed of his body in a freezer in 2019 will spend the rest of her life behind bars after recently being found guilty of murder, among other charges, in Lamar County Circuit Court.
According to documents provided by 15th Circuit Court District Attorney Hall Kittrell, on September 23 Judge Anthony Mozingo sentenced 40-year-old Samantha Simmons to life in prison for first-degree murder regarding the killing of Purvis resident Thomas Burns, along with 20 years to serve for receiving stolen property. Each sentence is set to run consecutively to each other.
The sentence is the maximum allowed for Simmons’ crimes.
“We are pleased with this sentence and hope that the family of the victim finds some peace,” Kittrell said.
Simmons was arrested and charged in July 2018 with the murder of 54-year-old- Burns, who was found dead the previous month in a freezer at his Lamar County home.
Deputies from the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department were notified of Burns’ body at about 1 p.m. May 22, 2018, after receiving a call from Burns’ family member and neighbor in the 1200 block of Oloh-Purvis Road. Burns had been reported missing by his family the previous day.
“They searched the house and there was no sign of him,” Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said in a previous story. “So they went back … and found him in the freezer.”
Members of the Hattiesburg Police Department assisted Lamar County officials with processing the scene. An autopsy at the State Crime in Jackson determined Burns’ cause of death to be asphyxiation.
Kittrell said Burns was dating Samantha Simmons at the time she choked him to death with a zip tie, tied his wrists and ankles together with ties and placed him in the freezer at his home.
“Over the course of a month, Simmons sold off most of Mr. Burns’s vehicles and personal property until his neighbors and brother discovered his body in the freezer,” Kittrell said. “The investigation revealed that Simmons had the key to a padlock that had been placed on the freezer and her DNA was on the zip ties on Mr. Burns’s body.
“Our mission is to ensure that Lamar County is a safe place to live and raise our families. We will continue to pursue and convict violent offenders and get them off the streets.”
In addition to Samantha Simmons, three other Purvis residents also were taken into custody in relation to the incident:
• Andy Hartfield, 51, charged with receiving stolen property
• Will Bryson, 23, charged with receiving stolen property
• James Allen Simmons, 59, charged with two counts of grand larceny and a probation violation.
Samantha Simmons and James Simmons are cousins. Bond was originally denied for Samantha Simmons, James Simmons and Andy Hartfield, while Will Bryson’s bond was set at $10,000. Samantha Simmons had previously been arrested and charged with grand larceny over $25,000.