Body in Edwards ID’d as Clinton woman

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The body of a woman discovered Friday on a farm near Edwards has been identified as Ethel Winstead Simpson of Clinton, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said.

Simpson, who was 81, died from blows to her head and neck, an autopsy revealed. Her body was dumped near a hog farm on Mississippi 22 and partially covered by a large plastic container where it was found by Edwards police after being alerted by the farm’s owner.

Simpson’s dental records were used to confirm the identity of the body Monday, a week after she had last been seen with a convicted sex offender, James Cobb Hutto III, 39, of Alabama.

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Simpson befriended Hutto on the walking track at Baptist Healthplex in Clinton.

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said Hutto was a predator looking for a vulnerable victim and told Simpson he was battling cancer and had no family.

“He may have heard her in conversation,” McMillin said. “He may have observed her in the past and said that might be a sympathetic ear to a story he was to tell.”

Later on that Monday, Simpson and Hutto drove together to Vicksburg, where security cameras at Riverwalk Casino recorded them leaving at 11:40 p.m.

Hutto was arrested Friday on an unrelated charge in Lee County, Ala., where he is accused of attempted murder and robbery. He was driving Simpson’s Mercedes-Benz when stopped.

McMillin said he will send investigators to the Lee County Detention Center to speak with Hutto, who had not been charged this morning in Simpson’s death.

Hutto appeared in court Monday for a probable cause hearing on the Alabama case. His bond was set at $250,000.

He had been convicted in Alabama in 2002 of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl and was released from an Alabama prison on that conviction in 2005. He had been sentenced to two concurrent 10-year terms and was released after serving 3 1/2 years.