DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - A badly decomposed body found in a rural area of Desoto County earlier this week has been identified as Sherry Percival-Smith, according to the coroner's office.
The 50-year-old woman had been missing since June 2011, and was last seen at the Handshake Lounge on Highway 301 in Hernando. Desoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco said his office wasn't notified of her disappearance until 3 months later. He told abc24.com, "I really can't answer why it was that length of time before anyone reported her missing… We did everything we could to follow back on all the info we had so we could track her down."
The human remains were found in a rural area off Highway 301 by a land owner and surveyor on January 31, 2012.
Jeff Pounders with the DeSoto County Coroner's Office told abc24.com that the cause of death has not yet been determined. The Desoto County Sheriff's Office is investigating Smith's death as a homicide.
There is one person of interest in the case, who is already in the Desoto County Jail on unrelated charges. He has declined to speak with investigators about Smith until he has obtained an attorney.
"I'd beat his a**," said Danny Nichols of the person responsible for killing his ex-girlfriend Sherry Smith. "I'm not a violent person but I'd do damage to him."
Nichols knew Smith for more than 40 years, and they lived together for four of those years. He said he was shocked when he found out the remains found in a wooded area of Desoto County were that of his one time girlfriend. "I loved the girl. Everybody did; she was a good girl."