What Was Found in Mississippi?

A body found in the Big Black River near U.S. 80 late Monday and believed to be human was determined this morning to be that of an unidentified animal.

The determination came as an autopsy began at the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Jackson.

“It is not human,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “I repeat, it is not human.”

The body was found by a father and son looking through scopes on rifles on U.S. 80 just east of Warren-Hinds county line at about 3 Monday afternoon.

Speculation Monday and early this morning had centered on Benjamin Bearrick, a 55-year-old Warriors Trail resident who has not been seen since Jan. 25, two days after he drove his next-door neighbor and tenant to a hospital with fatal stab wounds.

The death of Shawn Sponholz, 50, 5125 Warriors Trail, was ruled a homicide.

Bearrick was questioned and released, but was not found two days later when deputies went to his home for further investigation.

On Monday, as many as 20 law enforcement officials were staged on a concrete bridge over Big Black backwater as the remains were taken from the water about 75 yards from the bridge and brought to land.

Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey, standing in for the Hinds coroner, said immediately Monday that he could identify nothing from the remains.

The discovery came one day after a widespread manhunt through the Bovina area involving trained dogs and more than 60 deputies and volunteers, some from Louisiana.

Searchers on Sunday left empty-handed after searching the Bovina-area countryside with trained dogs from Mississippi and Louisiana, Pace said.

The sheriff said Investigator Chris Satcher was at the crime lab this morning when medical examiners determined the body was not human.

Family members said Sponholz, an employee of Energy Services International, had lived in Vicksburg for about a year.

Bearrick was reported to be unemployed, not married and a long-time resident of Vicksburg.

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