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SUN HERALD ARCHIVES: Father, baby shot in head, coroner says (Updated 4:15 p.m.)

Romeo Smith, 30, and his four-month-old daughter both died of a gunshot wound to the head, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove confirmed this afternoon.

Biloxi police have identified Barbara Starr Smith, 29, of Vine Street, as the woman accused in a double slaying that began at one apartment complex and ended at another.

The suspected shooter is related to the male victim, according to state marriage records. Smith turned herself in at the Biloxi Police Department, directing investigators to the baby's location at Woodland Towns apartments on Irish Hill Drive.

Savaan Smith was found dead in the front passenger seat of a Chevy Trailblazer. The silver sport utility vehicle is the one sought by police after the father was shot and the baby disappeared around 6:15 a.m.

Barbara Smith is charged with capital murder, murder and aggravated assault. Police said she will be transported to the Harrison County jail. Justice Court Judge Bruce Strong has ordered her held with no bond.

The coroner said Romeo Smith was shot while in his vehicle at Maison D'Orleans apartments off Beach Boulevard.

Marriage-license records show Romeo Smith and Barbara Smith were married in Harrison County on Sept. 29, 2004.

"We're not 100-percent sure what the legal status is of their marriage," said Biloxi Police Capt. Darrin Peterson.

The baby's mother, Simone Dixon, said she had heard a noise from her apartment and looked out. Dixon identified herself as the girlfriend of the male victim. Dixon said she saw Smith going in and out of her boyfriend's vehicle but she wasn't aware of what was happening.

Dixon said she went out to leave for work and had put the baby in her car seat. Dixon said she was about to get in the driver's seat when the woman appeared and began shooting.

"We didn't have any argument," Dixon said. "She just started shooting at me and I started running."

Dixon said she soon realized her baby had disappeared.

Biloxi police issued an Amber Alert through a national-crime data base and some Biloxi-area residents reported being notified by telephone. The announcement went out over a neighboring city's dispatch system as an alert for a missing child and a woman in a Chevy Trailblazer suspected of shooting the baby's father and mother.

The double slaying occurred over a period of three hours. The infant's body was found around 9:15 a.m.

Dixon said Romeo Smith had prayed over their daughter at her apartment before he left to start his day.

"He was a praying man," Dixon said. Police have asked that anyone with information call their tip line, 435-6159.

The Sun Herald updates this story in Saturday's editions.

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