Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
By: Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, BlackAmericaWeb.com
The body of a Jackson State University student missing since Nov. 13 has been found, and her boyfriend arrested and charged with murder, police said Thursday.
Latasha Norman, a 20-year-old accounting student from Greenville, Mississippi, was found dead in a wooded area on Brown Street near County Line Road in Jackson, said Sgt. Jeffrey Scott, spokesman for the Jackson Police Department.
“The agencies involved in this case worked very hard,” Scott told BlackAmericaWeb.com. "Regrettably, it came to this outcome."
Stanley Dwayne Cole, Latasha Norman's boyfriend.
Norman’s boyfriend, 24-year-old Stanley Dwayne Cole, is in the Jackson jail, being held without bond in connection with the death, Scott said. He did not give a motive for the murder.
Cole was arrested Thursday morning when he appeared in a Pearl, Mississippi courtroom on charges of simple battery involving an earlier incident with Norman, authorities said.
Investigators questioned Cole several hours, Scott said. Based on information from the interviews, authorities were able to locate the body, he said.
Cole also was a student at Jackson State, according to Anthony Dean, university spokesman.
Earlier in the day, police would not say for certain that the body discovered around 2 p.m. was that of Norman. “The body was in such a state of decomposition, we would not want to say anything until we were absolutely certain and the family have been notified,” Scott said.
Classes at the historically black university, located in the heart of Jackson, have been cancelled for Friday, and a memorial service for Norman is set for Monday at noon in the Rose Emily McCoy Auditorium, Dean told BlackAmericaWeb.com. Also, counseling services will be available for students, faculty and staff who need help in coping with the tragedy.
Now that Norman's body has been found, authorities will turn their attention toward the prosecution of the individual they feel is responsible for the her death.
The Jackson State Department of Public Safety had been investigating Norman's disappearance, along with the FBI, Hinds County Sheriff's Department and the Jackson Police Department, since her disappearance nearly three weeks ago.
"We all worked around the clock, hoping that we could bring Latasha back safely," said Chief Rebecca Coleman, director of the Jackson State Department of Public Safety in a prepared statement. "Now, our efforts must shift to seeking justice. We mourn with Latasha’s family and friends."
For days, Norman’s parents had made pleas on national radio shows and on television for anyone with information on their missing daughter to come forward.
Some, even Jackson law enforcement officials, had complained that the case did not garner the type of national media attention typically seen when white women come up missing.
Scott said campus, local, state and federal law enforcement officers remained focused on this case. “This was not about race for us. This was a Latasha Norman thing,” Scott said. "We were concerned about her safety."
Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. offered words of comfort Thursday night to Norman’s family and friends.
“We are profoundly saddened to learn of the death of our missing student, Latasha Norman. It is a tragedy we had hoped would not come to pass, and the Jackson State University family is devastated by this latest development,” Mason said in a prepared statement. “I want to extend my deepest and most profound sympathy to the Norman/Bolden family, Latasha's friends and others who loved her. There are simply no words that can take away the anguish I know you must feel in the face of such a heinous and senseless act."
Mason said Jackson State is committed to maintaining a safe campus.
“Though no one can be completely safe from individual acts of violence, I want to take this time to reassure the students, parents, faculty and staff that we will continue to work hard to ensure a safe and secure campus environment,” he said.
Norman vanished after one of her classes at Jackson State University. Her car was left on the campus, and she never returned to her dormitory room. But officials assure that the safety of their students is paramount.
“You must remember," said Dean, "that the person authorities believe to be connected to this is someone she had known for quite some time." (Source)