Suspicious death in Salem Community has investigators puzzled

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Sheriff's Department is looking for answers after a woman was found dead in her home on Highway 43 in the Salem Community.

Investigators haven't said yet how 61-year-old Vera Rebecca Johnson died. More details will come after an autopsy. She was discovered Thursday and officials are still searching for clues.

"We have a situation where we have an unclear cause of death," said Hancock County Sheriff's Investigator Brandon Normand.

Investigators say Rebecca Johnson's son discovered his mother dead at her home last week.

"Her son had spoken with her Wednesday and was going to see her on Thursday as a visit and he found her body," Normand said.

Sheriff's investigators are releasing few details about the circumstances surrounding Johnson's death.

"We are investigating her case as a homicide case, as we would do with any death case where we are unsure of the circumstances."

Johnson is the oldest sister of Hancock County Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar.

"Her family are well known in the community and don't have any obvious enemies," explained Normand.

Investigators say there was no signs of a struggle or signs of forced entry into the house. But they wouldn't say why the death appears suspicious.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances, we don't feel at ease with the possibility of a natural death. We, again, are not sure. We're waiting on the results of the autopsy."

They do say, however, residents of the area have nothing to fear.

"We believe that if this does turn out to be an incident, it will be an isolated incident. We don't believe there's going to be any safety concerns for the citizens of Hancock County," Normand said.

Johnson was arrested in July on a controlled substance violation. But authorities say they don't believe her death is linked to that incident in any way.

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