HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Marshall County Sheriff's deputies have identified the 20-year-old found dead at Chewalla Lake over the weekend as Samuel Smith of Pulaski County, Arkansas.
They said they're now investigating the case as a homicide and believe the suspect is on the loose, possibly armed and driving the victim’s truck.
“A person 20 years of age, it’s extremely tragic," said Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
Sheriff Dickerson says fishermen at Chewalla Lake found Smith’s body in the water shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday.
“The victim had texted, I believe, his sister in Arkansas letting her know he was either there or in route to Chewalla Lake to do some camping and fishing.”
He says Smith was driving from Pulaski County, Arkansas when he picked up a man along the way.
“We have no idea whether they knew one another or not.”
He thinks Smith picked him up in Louisiana and witnesses reported seeing the two together along with Smith’s dog at Chewalla Lake.
“No feud or argument was seen by anyone that we know of.”
The Sheriff says he doesn’t think Smith and the suspect were at the lake for even two days before Smith was killed.
He says Smith was found with signs of trauma on his head but based on the autopsy results, he thinks the suspect drowned him three or four days before his body was found.
“We are making contacts throughout Texas and Louisiana, as well as possibly Mexico, [and sharing] this mugshot in an effort to identify the suspect.”
The suspect has since been spotted in Smith’s truck and captured on surveillance video from a nearby store.
Investigators believe he has Smith’s rifle, among other items.
“His camping equipment, his truck, his ID, his credit card, his debit card -- all of that is still missing at this time," said Criminal Investigator Kelly McMillen.
They’re also working to find Smith’s dog, a Border Collie, that's been spotted near the campground and say Smith’s family is coming to Holly Springs to help with the investigation.
The truck the suspect is believed to be driving is described as a gray S-10 Chevrolet pick-up with Texas tags.
If you have any information about this case, you’re asked to call 662-252-1311. There is a reward money available for information that can lead to an arrest.