The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 19, 2013

2 kids kidnapped, one's throat cut in south Miss.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A man lured two brothers, ages 5 and 8, from their yard in south Mississippi and took them to his camper trailer, where he sexually abused them and slashed the older boy's throat, authorities said Thursday.

The 8-year-old boy is hospitalized and is expected to survive the Wednesday attack, said Don Bass, chief deputy with Hancock County sheriff's office on the Mississippi coast.

Bass said the older brother, with his throat cut, escaped the suspect's trailer Wednesday evening and ran about 500 yards to a neighbor's house. The neighbor called police.

The children were abducted Wednesday afternoon from a residence in Pearl River County and taken to the trailer in rural Hancock County where he sexually abused both boys, Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said in a news release.

Bass identified the suspect as James H. Smith, 41. Smith was released from prison to house arrest in June after serving a few months of a lengthy sentence in a racketeering case involving methamphetamine and assaulting a police officer, according to corrections officials and court records.

It was not immediately clear whether Smith had a lawyer. An attorney who represented him in the racketeering case did not immediately respond to a phone message Thursday.

He was being held on a $3.5 million bond, Bass said.

Shane Tucker, chief deputy with Pearl River County sheriff's department, said Smith is a cousin of the boys' father's live-in girlfriend. He said Smith had not been around the boys much, but was familiar with them, and lured them away while they played in the yard.

After the older child escaped Smith's trailer, Bass said Smith grabbed the younger boy, put him in a car and was trying to get away when Hancock County sheriff's deputy Tommy Bethea spotted them and blocked the car's path. The suspect jumped out of his car and Bethea was able to rescue the 5-year-old, Bass said.

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