A preliminary autopsy revealed that a child whose body was found wrapped in garbage bags in a Mississippi basement last week died from of "multiple blunt trauma due to beating," officials announced Tuesday.
Police charged 35-year-old Celeste Louise Smith of Meridian with capital murder and two counts of child neglect after police say she led them to a house basement where they found what could be the remains of a 5-year-old child who had been missing for months.
Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose said a woman told police last week that her 5-year-old son with special needs, Jakie Toole, had been missing since April. The child was also non-verbal and had trouble walking, according to the Clarion Ledger.
An autopsy conducted Friday at the state crime lab in Pearl, Miss., found the badly decomposed body had a broken rib on one side and cracked ribs on the other, Dubose said. The identity of the remains has not been officially confirmed pending the results of a DNA test, the newspaper reported.
Dubose said officers interviewed Smith, a family friend who had once taken care of the boy and one of his siblings. Smith led officers first to a wooded area and then to the home where the remains were found in garbage bags that were taped shut, police said.
Investigators said Smith told them the child was badly burned while she was bathing him and that she began to beat him when he wouldn’t stop crying. The body was too decomposed to reveal signs of burns, Dubose told the Clarion Ledger. The official report submitted to Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler Tuesday did not list burns on the body.
The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services said it received an anonymous tip Sept. 6 about Toole. When the agency could not locate the 5-year-old, they contacted law enforcement, Lea Anne Brandon, MDCPS' director of communications told the Clarion Ledger. It remained unclear when Toole’s mother was last in contact with her young son. Some reports said she last saw the son in April when she dropped Toole off at Smith’s house to mind him. She did not report her son missing until last week.
Meridian Municipal Judge Robbie Jones said Smith has stopped cooperating with authorities and isn't providing any more details about the case. Smith is jailed at the Lauderdale County Detention Center without bail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.