No bond for Gautier man who cops say killed Amanda Hicks

A judge Thursday set a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to indict a Gautier man accused in the slaying of his live-in girlfriend.

James Vanlaningham, 56, is being held on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Amanda Hicks, whose decomposed remains were found behind a church last week. He is held without bond until the hearing, which is set for April 17.

A state medical examiner used dental records to confirm the body was that of Hicks, 37.

Parishioners at Pine Grove United Methodist Church discovered the remains in the woods behind their church.

Vanlaningham has been in custody since Feb. 8, the same day Hicks went missing. He was first arrested on a DUI charge in Brewton, Alabama. At the time, he was driving a truck that belonged to Hicks and that had her wallet and cellphone inside.

Gautier police later arrested him on a charge of first-degree arson in the fire that was set at the couple’s mobile home at Santa Maria RV Park Marina on Martin Bluff Road in Vancleave.

Witnesses reported seeing the couple argue before the fire. Neighbors also said they heard a woman scream in the mobile home before it went up in flames.

Vanlaningham had refused to cooperate in the missing-persons investigation, authorities said.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45