Samantha Simmons charged with murder of Thomas Burns


A Purvis woman has been charged with murder in the homicide investigation of Thomas Burns, the 54-year-old man who was found dead last month in a freezer at his Lamar County home.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said Samantha Simmons, 35, was charged Wednesday. She had previously been arrested and charged with grand larceny over $25,000.

Rigel said Burns’ cause of death was asphyxiation.

A court date for Samantha Simmons has not yet been set, but Rigel said she could face life in prison if found guilty.

Officials from the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department were notified of Burns’ body at about 1 p.m. May 22 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,” Rigel said in an earlier story. “So they went back … and found him in the freezer.”

Members of Hattiesburg Police Department assisted Lamar County officials with processing the scene.

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 denied for Samantha Simmons, James Simmons and Andy Hartfield, while Will Bryson’s bond was set at $10,000.

“The charges with (James Simmons, Bryson and Hartfield) have not changed,” Rigel said. “(Samantha) Simmons is the only one being charged (with murder) right now, but there could be other charges coming forward in relation to Mr. Burns’ murder.”