By Cynthia M. Jeffries

Daily Journal

MANTACHIE - The body of an Itawamba County woman who was reported missing Tuesday morning was found Thursday in a wooded area in the southern part of the county.

A law enforcement official said family members have identified the body found about 1 p.m. south of Mantachie Creek near the Peaceful Valley community as that of Lila Jean Hood.

Hood's body was found more than 20 miles from where the woman was last seen heading to her home in the Ratliff community in northern Itawamba County.

Authorities were not commenting on a cause of death Thursday night. The body will be sent to the state's crime lab in Jackson for an autopsy.

Authorities were holding a man in the Itawamba County Jail Thursday for questioning in connection with the incident, an official said. No charges had been filed by 8:30 p.m. Thursday against the man who was picked up at his home about 12 hours before the body was discovered.

His identity was unavailable late Thursday.

Another man who had been held since noon Tuesday for questioning in Hood's disappearance was released Thursday. No charges are expected against him, the official said.

Itawamba County sheriff's deputies and Mississippi Highway Patrol criminal investigators were making plaster molds of tire tracks Thursday at the location where Hood's body was found.

Hood, 46, was last seen by a co-worker about 4:45 p.m. Monday heading home. She was reported missing about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Her husband, Lewis Hood, called authorities and cut a business trip in Columbus short to return home after repeated phone calls to the couple's home were unanswered.

Authorities found a blood stain a little larger than a shoe box on the living room floor of the couple's home on Bunch Lake Road. Blood was also found on a chair, a door and on the door's threshold as well as outside on the driveway.

Cash was in view on a table and a checkbook was left on a coffee table. The only thing missing was Hood's purse, said Christy Johnson, Lila Hood's daughter-in-law.

Also, valuable electronic items, such as a television, microwave and a VCR, were not touched.

Wednesday, volunteer firefighters and friends combed nearby woods on foot and with four-wheelers looking for Hood. A helicopter was also used in the search for the Action Industry-Saltillo worker.

State officials packed up four garbage-bag-size containers of items Tuesday that will be sent to the state's crime lab in Jackson for further testing. The materials are expected today, said Debbie Haller, a forensic scientist at the Mississippi Crime Lab.

Once there, it could take a week or longer to conduct all of the tests on the items, Haller said.

"It not something that can be done in 5 minutes," she said.

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