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Ohio mom Latina Marie Oates checked herself and her three sons into a Hampton Inn in Laurel, Mississippi on March 14 — but when she checked out three days later, only two of her sons left with her.
Hotel staff discovered the brutalized body of the third son in their bathroom later that morning. Not long after, the mother was charged as a suspect in the boy's killing.
It is currently unclear why Oates, 33, drove her children from their home in Powell, Ohio to Mississippi, Laurel Police Chief Tommy Cox said in an interview with Oxygen.com. He also could not comment on a motive for the killing.
But when he and other officers rushed to the crime scene the morning of March 17, he says what authorities saw there made their blood run cold.
“It was a very, very disturbing crime scene,” Cox said.
The dead son, Joshua Oates, was 11 years old. He died of blunt force trauma, Cox said.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation put out an Amber Alert for Oates’s surviving 9-year-old and 6-year-old at 11:30 a.m. that morning, local outlet The Columbus Dispatch reported.
The children were “considered to be in imminent danger,” according to a bulletin by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Oates was arrested in a residential driveway in New Orleans the day after the alert went out. The woman's two surviving children were in her car at the time, Cox told Oxygen.com.
It is not clear why the mother was in New Orleans, and the homeowners of the residence where she was arrested do not know the woman, Cox said.
Oates has been charged with first-degree murder. Her surviving sons were with her when she was arrested, but were apparently unharmed, Cox told Oxygen.com.
Cox said he was impressed by the speed of the arrest and the amount of cooperation in the investigation, which spanned three states.
Oates was transferred to a jail in Jones County, Miss. the night of March 17, according to a news release by the Laurel Police Department. She was denied bail the following afternoon. It was not immediately clear if she was available for comment.
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