COLUMBIA, Miss. – Two suspects are behind bars after a weekend murder and double arson in Columbia. According to Police Chief Mike Cooper, this is the city’s first homicide case in at least three years. The fires were started, and the body was discovered on Saturday morning.
Nettie Lewis, 23, and Lori Jones, both of Columbia, have been arrested and charged in the case.
Lewis was charged with arson and murder.
Jones has two arson charges and a murder charge.
Lewis’ mother offers condolences for her daughter’s alleged actions. “I’m truly sorry for everything that’s happened, and my thoughts and prayers are with ya’ll. My daughter says the same, and she’s sorry too,” said Lewis’ mother after her initial appearance.
A Marion County justice court judge set Lewis’ bond at $1.5 million.
Police arrested Lewis shortly after a woman’s body was found inside a burned home on D. Street.
“We had a report of two structure fires. One on the north end of town, one of the south end of town. We had an officer taking an unrelated call at the hospital and he received a tip that there may be a body in one of the residences,” said Chief Cooper.
The identity of the victim in the fire has not yet been confirmed. The body has been sent to the state crime lab in Jackson, MS.
However, neighbors say 49-year-old Tara Daniels lived in the home.
We spoke with Daniels’ family who said she hasn’t been seen since the fire. They also confirmed that Daniels and Lewis knew each other. Lewis’ half sister is Daniels’ niece.
Jones faces arson charges for the house fire on D Street, as well as a fire on Loftin Street which happened the same day. No one was hurt in the Loftin Street fire.
Police have not yet released Jone’s connection to Lewis or the possible victim.
However, Lewis’ mother confirms that the home on Loftin Street belonged to another one of their family members.
Authorities say this case is on-going.
WHLT will keep you updated as more information becomes available.