LAUREL, Miss. (AP) — An Ohio woman accused of killing her 11-year-old son and leaving his body in a Mississippi hotel was arrested in New Orleans on Wednesday, police said.
Latina Marie Oates, 33, of Powell, Ohio, was arrested about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Laurel, Mississippi Police Chief Tommy Cox told The Associated Press. Oates has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Joshua Oates, Cox said.
Two other children with Latina Oates — 9-year-old Mark Anthony Oates and 6-year-old Justin Lamar Oates — were found Wednesday and are being cared for by child welfare authorities, Cox said. He said police have contacted family members in Ohio, who are coming to retrieve the younger boys.
“The first thing is the kids are safe,” Cox said in a news conference Wednesday morning broadcast by WDAM-TV. “The second thing is she’s in custody.”
He said a tip led police to Latina Oates, who was arrested in her car in a driveway.
The boy’s body was found Tuesday in a hotel bathroom in the south Mississippi town. Cox did not say how Joshua Oates died, but described the hotel room as a “bad scene” while declining to say more. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.
Police in Mississippi and Louisiana had issued bulletins warning that the children were “believed to be in imminent danger” after the body was found. They said surveillance video showed Oates leaving a Hampton Inn with the younger children.
Oates and her children had checked into the hotel on Saturday, Cox said. He said there was no indication anyone else was traveling with them, but said investigators are collecting video and trying to find out if Oates had relatives in the area.
Oates is not likely to be returned to Mississippi to make her first appearance in court until next week, Cox said.