Mississippi Police Find Missing Student's Body, Charge Ex-Boyfriend With Murder

The ex-boyfriend of a missing Jackson State University student was charged with murder Thursday after leading police to her decomposed body in the woods off a quiet Jackson street, authorities said.

The discovery of Latasha Norman's body was a tragic ending for an accounting major who worked on the school newspaper and ended up the focus of a story that grabbed national attention.

Norman's ex-boyfriend, Stanley Dwayne Cole of Greenville, was charged with murder after being interviewed by detectives on Thursday, said Jackson Police Sgt. Jeffery B. Scott.

"Investigators were able to locate the body based on information developed in the course of the interview," Scott said.

Scott said Cole had hired an attorney, but did not know the lawyer's name.

Friends described the 20-year-old Norman as a quiet and serious student. She was last seen alive after leaving an afternoon class Nov. 13.

Her body was found Thursday off Brown Street in north Jackson near some old tires and a faded blue tarpaulin, callously discarded among empty beer bottles and other road side trash.

Brown Street is a sparsely populated road about a mile west of Intestate 55 near Tougaloo College, a historically black private school in this capital city. It was not clear how long the body had been there.

Norman, who is also from Greenville in the Mississippi Delta, had been the target of attacks in the weeks before her disappearance, authorities said.

Cole had been charged with simple assault for allegedly hitting Norman. And someone had slashed Norman's car's tires and removed the vehicle's license plate.

Authorities identified Norman's body "based on evidence recovered from the crime scene and from forensic evidence," Scott said.

Brown Street residents gathered down in front of an apartment complex and a small community center with faded pink walls as investigators removed the body.

"This is scary," said 37-year-old Denise Lewis. "This is unusual for this area. It's the first time they've ever found a body here that I'm aware of."

A university spokesman had no comment Thursday on the arrest or discovery of the body. The disappearance caused an outpouring of emotion on the 7,900-student campus known as "Mississippi's Urban University," where classmates have held candlelight vigils and urged the community to help find Norman.