HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The father and son charged with killing Philip Whitaker are now each being held on a $1 million bond. Terry and Carl Smith made their initial appearance in court Wednesday. In addition to bond, a preliminary hearing was set for January 16.
Hancock County Sheriff's Department investigators arrested Terry, 70, and Carl, 46, Tuesday after questioning them about Whitaker's shooting death. Investigator Glenn Grannan said the pair admitted to killing Whitaker.
Grannan said Whitaker and the Smiths were friends. Police believe it all started when Whitaker went to visit the pair. Investigators say Whitaker was shot and killed in Carl Smith's home, north of the Kiln off Highway 603.
"An argument ensued at which time one of the arrested suspects shot the victim three times," said Deputy Don Bass of the Hancock Countt Sheriff's Department.
Whitaker's decomposing body was found wrapped in carpet along I-10 in New Orleans East on Nov. 15, one week after the Hancock County Sheriff's Department asked for help finding him. Whitaker was last seen Nov. 8 leaving Love's Pharmacy in Harrison County.
Hancock County investigators said the 54-year-old was shot multiple times at the Smiths' home on Ponderosa Trail off Hwy. 603. A murder weapon has not been recovered, Grannan said, but investigators believe Terry's truck was used to haul and dispose of the body.
Jim Winston lives next door to where the shooting allegedly happened. He says he only talked to Carl Smith one time and is stunned something like this could've happened in rural Hancock County.
"It's kind of scary just the fact that a murder may have happened next door," said Winston.
Monday, deputies released information about a maroon Toyota Sienna van wanted in relation to the investigation. Grannan said that van was recovered Tuesday morning in Poplarville, and it's currently at the sheriff's department.