A registered sex offender authorities say has a history of violence has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Booneville woman whose remains were found Monday after being reported missing last week.

Russell Donail Williams, 64, of Booneville, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder. He is accused of killing 42-year-old Tiffany Deann Copeland who was last seen last Tuesday, February 2.

“Due to the egregious nature of the crime and the potential threat posed to the community, Judge Kimi Kitchens deemed it necessary to hold the suspect without bond,” said Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar.

“Williams has an extensive criminal history of violent crimes and is a Registered Sex Offender,” said the sheriff.

The Mississippi Sex Offender Registry indicates Williams was convicted of rape in Prentiss County Circuit Court on March 2, 2001.

Copeland was reported missing last Friday to the Booneville Police Department and was last seen on Tuesday, February 2. Searchers discovered her body Monday afternoon in a wooded area near County Road 7400 in the Blackland Community west of Booneville.

The body has been sent to the state crime lab in Jackson for autopsy.

“The coroner’s office took possession of her body and transported it to Jackson for an autopsy. We aren’t releasing any details concerning cause or manner of death until we get the preliminary autopsy report back,” said the sheriff.

Tolar said the police department was able to ping Copeland’s cell phone which was last shown to be somewhere in Blackland. A three-day search of the area which involved the sheriff’s department, police department, community members, the county rescue squad and others led to the discovery of the victim’s body Monday afternoon. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was brought in to assist with the investigation of the scene.

“This investigation has been going on nonstop since the victim was reported missing, and the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department would like to thank the Booneville Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations for the outstanding teamwork shown in this effort,” said Tolar.

The case will be presented to the next session of the Prentiss County Grand Jury by Sheriff’s Department Investigator Dallas Lumpkin.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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