Purvis woman out on bond after alleged murder

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Purvis woman who law enforcement officials say murdered a man and disposed of his body in a freezer has been granted bond after serving approximately a year behind bars.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said Samantha Simmons posted bond in early May, after a circuit judge reduced the bond down to $50,000. Simmons was arrested and charged in July 2018 with the murder of 54-year-old-Thomas 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,” 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. An autopsy at the State Crime in Jackson determined Burns’ cause of death to be asphyxiation.

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.