GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A Gautier murder suspect was in court Monday afternoon for his preliminary hearing. James Vanlaningham, Jr. is accused of killing his girlfriend, Amanda Hicks.
Investigators said Vanlaningham confessed to family and friends that he set Hicks on fire, hit her in the head, and left her to die. Her body was found behind Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Jackson County.
Vanlaningham is also accused of burning down the trailer the two were living in at the Santa Maria RV Park in Gautier.
The February night when that trailer burned, Alabama authorities arrested Vanlaningham on a DUI charge. When he was brought back to Mississippi, Gautier investigators accused him of arson. Now, he faces a first-degree murder charge.
Vanlaningham is locked up in the Jackson County Adult Detention Center without bond. His case will now go before a grand jury.