A search dog found a human scent in woods near Cemetery Road on Friday during a search for missing Biloxi woman Amber Rose Barnett.
The dog’s handler saw remains that are believed to be those of Barnett, who was 21 when she went missing five months ago, Sheriff Troy Peterson said. She would have been 22.
Barnett’s mother had reported her missing to the Biloxi Police Department on Feb. 22. At first, there was no reason to believe she had met with foul play, police said. Police later turned the case over to Harrison County after finding information indicating her last known location was on County Farm Road, Peterson said.
The last person known to be in contact with Barnett was 28-year-old Wayne Claude Adams of Gulfport, Peterson said. Sheriff’s investigators had arrested him on a sexual battery charge on April 6, and he was released on bond. It’s unclear if Barnett was the victim of the alleged sexual assault.
Adams faces a charge of first-degree murder. He was served with an arrest warrant Friday at the Harrison County jail.
She planned to rent a home
Barnett was last seen at her mother’s home on Feb. 17. She normally talked to her mother at least every other day, but stopped answering her phone, police said.
Biloxi police in early March reported Barnett had been seen around Feed My Sheep, a soup kitchen on 19th Street in Gulfport, before her mother filed a missing person report. They learned she had planned to look for a home to rent near West Harrison High School, which is on County Farm Road.
Search warrants and interviews led investigators to believe Barnett had been killed and her body disposed of in woods west of Cemetery Road, Peterson said.
Sheriff’s investigators and members of Gulf Coast Search and Rescue began looking in woods Friday and used dogs to search for her scent.
“One of the dogs scented to that area and one of the handlers saw some of the remains,” Peterson said.
It was in an area north of George Ladner Road, about 10 miles from County Farm Road, Barnett’s last known location.
“Although we believe these remains to be that of Amber Barnett, the remains will be sent to the Mississippi Crime Laboratory for positive DNA results,” Peterson said.
More arrests expected
The cause of death may be hard to determine, he said.
“Maybe the only one who knows that is the person who killed her,” Peterson said.
However, he said, more arrests are expected.
Peterson said investigators and crime-scene technicians will be in the wooded area throughout the weekend, “looking for any and all evidence we can locate.”
Adams has been in the county jail since Aug. 21 on bonds that total $86,000. Investigators had arrested him on charges of possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor charges of malicious mischief and false information or identity. He’s also held on the pending sexual battery charge.
Justice Court Judge Diane Ladner set Adams’ bond on the first-degree murder charge at $1 million.
At the time of Barnett’s disappearance, Biloxi police said it was believed that Barnett was alive and well.
“It appears she is fine and just out there somewhere,” Biloxi Maj. Christopher De Back told the Sun Herald in March.
On Friday evening, De Back said, “We did track everything we could. Once we tracked her to Harrison County, we turned it over to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.
“We did everything we could.”