Former law enforcement officer charged with rape now charged with attempted murder

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2014



A former Lamar County law enforcement officer who is currently being held on a rape charge now faces two counts of attempted capital murder.

The suspect, 47-year-old Averald “Junior” D. Burnett, of Hattiesburg, was a former law enforcement officer for more than two decades with the Hattiesburg Police Department and the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department before retiring in May of this year, according to a story on WDAM’s website.

On June 1, he was arrested on the charge of forcible rape in Lamar County, but was being held in Pearl River County, said Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker.

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On July 15, the department was called to meet with a complainant at the Picayune Police Department concerning additional allegations against Burnett. Tucker said when a detective spoke with the complainant, who was a former inmate at the Pearl River County jail, the department was provided with detailed information concerning a plot to murder two people in Lamar County, a plot allegedly initiated by Burnett, Tucker said.

“This is information that could not have come from anyone else,” Tucker said.

The investigation included the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, who was involved in the initial rape investigation, and showed that payment had been made to initiate the murder of the rape victim and a witness in the case, Tucker said.

“The fact that this guy is a former law enforcement officer is embarrassing and disappointing,” Tucker said. “I’m glad we caught him before anything actually happened.”

Tucker said the rape did not occur in this county but the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department is holding Burnett for MBI.