Suspect in custody after Starkville man’s body found

Police have been looking for 24-year-old Jarrel Ward since his family filed a formal report with the Columbus Police Department on Friday. 

Joshua Murry is in custody and a person of interest after the body of Jarrel Ward was found Wednesday night.

Staff Writer

A person of interest is in custody after the body of a Starkville man last seen alive in Columbus on Thursday was found in a heavily-wooded area of Lowdnes County on Wednesday, about six miles northeast of Columbus.

Police have been looking for 24-year-old Jarrel Ward since his family filed a formal report with the Columbus Police Department on Friday.

Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge said in a press conference 27-year-old Joshua Murry is in custody as a person of interest, and he is being held at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on unrelated charges.

According to Clay County Circuit Court records, since being placed on probation in Lowndes County Circuit Court on the drug charges in May 2016, Murry’s been arrested on misdemeanor charges in Columbus and Lowndes County but failed to show up or pay fines. He was picked up Wednesday afternoon by Columbus Police on contempt of court warrants from Columbus City Court and served with similar warrants from Lowndes County Justice Court. The Mississippi Department of Corrections also has a hold on him for probation violation.

“We are confident we will file charges on him soon in connection with this death, for murder,” Arledge said.

He would not go into details on how Murray and Ward are connected or what led them to him as a suspect.

Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant told the Starkville Daily News Ward’s body was found by a resident in the 900 block of Sand Road sometime Wednesday night.

Arledge said Ward’s body was found about 200 yards off the road on the edge of a path by a resident who was walking.

Merchant said it appeared the body had been there for several days.

“It is being treated as a homicide,” Merchant said.

Merchant said he believes Ward was killed in another location and his body was dumped in the location it was found.

Merchant said Ward’s body has been transported to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Pearl for an autopsy.

Starkville Police Department Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady said the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney Scott Colom’s Office and SPD are coordinating the investigation, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

According to Ward’s family, Ward was last seen Thursday morning, with CPD Chief Fred Shelton saying he was last seen at the Donut Factory on Highway 45 in Columbus.

Ward’s family filed a missing person report with CPD Friday, and SPD received a missing persons report on Saturday evening.

“The family provided information about who he was with and what he was doing,” CPD Chief Fred Shelton said. “Some of that information points to Murry as a possible person.”