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Slasher nabbed in Hancock County

James Harold Smith

James Harold Smith

By Jodi Marze

Picayune Item

A joint effort between Pearl River County  and Hancock County Sheriff’s Departments, along with Picayune Police Department resulted in the Wednesday night capture of the accused kidnapper James Harold Smith, said Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam.

“Smith, 41 of Mitchell Road in the Leetown community, has been charged with attempted murder, sexual battery and kidnapping,” Hancock County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Don Bass added.

Smith is being held with no bond at the Hancock County jail on a probation warrant from the Mississippi Department of Corrections. A judge set bonds Thursday at $3.5 million on the charges.

“The two boys, ages 8 and 5 were kidnapped in Pearl River County and transported to Hancock County,” said Adam. “It appears they were brought to the suspect’s trailer. That is where he was staying and where we found him.

“The 8 -year -old boy had his throat slit, but was able to escape and run to a nearby home bleeding quite a bit.”

Investigators said they believe Smith sexually assaulted both boys and cut the 8-year-old’s neck before the older child escaped.

“When deputies arrived on scene, the suspect was trying to flee the scene in a vehicle and had the five year old with him. When he saw the officers, he tried to return to the property and in an attempt to get away, he abandoned both the vehicle and the five-year-old boy, who was alive.”

That was when a foot chase ensued, said Adam.

“We were joined by Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and City of Picayune Police Department; they worked excellently with us, it was a great team effort,” said Adam. “Communication and openness between departments worked to benefit  the children. Team efforts are the only way we can be successful in cases like this.”

The 8-year-old child abduction victim from Pearl River County was found in Hancock County and airlifted to a hospital in Mobile.
Photo by Dwayne Bremer | the Item

The 8 –year-old was airlifted to a medical facility in Mobile. Adam said the boy was able to talk to his mother on a cell phone.

Smith was taken to a hospital as a precaution, where he was served with charges, said Adam.

“At the time of the incident, he was supposed to be on house arrest with a bracelet, but no bracelet was seen by me,” said Adam.

Pearl River County Clerk of Court Vickie Hariel confirmed his court record.

“Smith pled guilty and was sentenced in Feb. of 2013 for violation of Mississippi Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and in doing so on Feb. 21 he was sentenced 20 years with 5 to serve and 15 on post release supervision. Our records would not indicate how many years he had done prior to the sentencing.”

Sheriff David Allison and Major Donnie Saucier of Pearl River County actively took part in the investigation.

“The last report this morning, had the boy listed in stable condition and he is expected to fully recover,” said Allison. “The Department of Human Services (DHS) contacted the sheriff’s department and they are working with the father at this time.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in this and I want all to know that  we intend to charge Smith with kidnapping, here in Pearl River County. They are holding him in Hancock. The crime scene was located on Mitchell Road in Hancock County. We had officers from all multiple counties involved who worked seamlessly.”