Hancock County

Manner of Waveland woman's death is key to investigation

WESLEY MULLER/SUN HERALD 
 Crime-scene tape remains around the house of Karen Humphries in the usually quiet neighborhood near St. Joseph Street and Jeff Davis Avenue on Friday, Jan. 22, 2015. Waveland police said Humphries was found dead under suspicious circumstances in her home Thursday.
WESLEY MULLER/SUN HERALD Crime-scene tape remains around the house of Karen Humphries in the usually quiet neighborhood near St. Joseph Street and Jeff Davis Avenue on Friday, Jan. 22, 2015. Waveland police said Humphries was found dead under suspicious circumstances in her home Thursday.

WAVELAND -- Officials know the cause of death of a woman found in her St. Joseph Street home, but it will take autopsy results and further investigation to determine the manner of death, Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said.

Police found Karen Humphries, 49, dead Thursday. Police Chief David Allen said a caller had asked that police check on her.

"The circumstances of Karen's death are not clear-cut. Therefore, we are proceeding thoroughly and carefully until some questions are answered through interviews, crime-scene analysis, cellphone analysis and an autopsy," Allen said. "This could be an accidental death, but we will proceed with due diligence until we are certain."

An autopsy was being performed Friday morning, but Faulk said he's not sure when the report in Jackson will be downloaded so he can access it via computer or when he can speak with the forensic pathologist handling the autopsy. He said it could take longer if additional tests are needed.

"We know how she died (the cause), but we don't know the manner in which she died," Faulk said. "We're not releasing the cause until we know the manner."

In death investigations, pathologists are required to classify the manner of death in one of five classifications -- natural, accidental, homicide, suicide or undetermined.

"It's up in the air until I get the autopsy report," he said. "It's puzzling so far until some of the facts come in."

The placement of crime-scene tape Thursday drew the attention of neighbors and people passing the house in the 600 block of St. Joseph. The area is near the west end of Jeff Davis Avenue. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation taped off and processed the scene, Allen said.

"It will take a bit of time for answers to start coming in," Allen said, who added there doesn't appear to be any connection between Humphries' death and the shooting earlier Thursday at the Barber College, also in Waveland.

Faulk said he pronounced Humphries dead just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

"The next of kin -- her son -- has been notified," Faulk said. "She was living with a significant other. Some say she and the man were married but her son said they were not."

Her driver's license, issued in 2011, lists her middle name as Maree and a home address in Bay St. Louis, he said.

The Sun Herald has been unable to reach her family.

SunHerald.com will update this report when more information is available.

Justin Mitchell, Sun Herald web producer, contributed to this report.

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