Crime

Hattiesburg High counselor found dead in Stone County home 'was unrecognizable,' coroner says

A woman found dead inside her home Wednesday was not recognizable because of her injuries and the length of time she had been dead, Stone County Coroner Wayne Flurry said.

Sherry Johnson, a guidance counselor at Hattiesburg High School, was the victim of a homicide, officials say.

Johnson was 51 and lived on Johnson Road near Wiggins.

An autopsy will be performed Friday.

Medical records are expected to positively identify her, Flurry said.

"She could not be visibly identified by her remains," Flurry said, "She had been there a couple of days but we have no reason to doubt that it is her."

"We don't know how she died, but she did have some traumatic and lethal injuries to her person. We don't know whether she was dead or alive when she received the wounds."

A son had been living with her, Flurry said.

The sheriff's department had received a call from someone who was worried about her, Sheriff's Capt. Ray Boggs said. Her family reported they hadn't been able to reach her for a few days.

No information is being released on her apparent injuries.

"We have a person of interest and we do not want to jeopardize the investigation by putting information out there at this time," Boggs said.

Johnson had worked for the Hattiesburg Public School District since 2014, according to district spokeswoman Samone Wilson.

Grief counselors are available at the high school for district employees and students, she said.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and all those impacted by the untimely loss of Ms. Sherry Johnson," Wilson said in a written statement.

If you have any information that can help investigators, call the Stone County Sheriff's Department at 601-928-7251.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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