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Missing family's cousin in custody

Charges related to family's disappearance expected Monday

A trooper works a roadblock near an investigation at Leaf River Veterinary Services on Saturday.
A trooper works a roadblock near an investigation at Leaf River Veterinary Services on Saturday.

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CNN's Mike Brooks on the arrest of a missing family's cousin.
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Authorities question relative of the missing family.
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Missing persons
Mississippi

TAYLORSVILLE, Mississippi (CNN) -- A cousin of a family missing since Valentine's Day was in custody Sunday night, and authorities were expected to file charges against him Monday related to his relatives' disappearance, a state Department of Public Safety spokesman said.

Authorities have been questioning Earnest Lee Hargon in the disappearance of his cousin Michael Hargon, Michael's wife, Rebecca, and the couple's 4-year-old son, James Patrick, said Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Earnest Hargon was in custody in Smith County on charges filed against him Sunday of possession of illegal methamphetamines and a military-style rifle, Strain said.

Fifty searchers used helicopters, horses, dogs and backhoes Sunday to probe five houses on a 160-acre property near Taylorsville, at least some of which belongs to Earnest Hargon.

The tract -- in Smith County about 60 miles southeast of the state capital of Jackson -- includes woods, marshland and a river, Strain said.

The property also is the location of a veterinary clinic owned by Earnest Hargon's wife, Lisa Hargon, Strain said. Lisa Hargon is listed in the phone book as Lisa Ainsworth, a veterinarian.

There was no sign on the land of a white van that several people said they saw racing from the family's neighborhood in Vaughn, about 35 miles north of Jackson in Yazoo County, on the day the Hargons disappeared.

Police said the family's disappearance could be connected to an inheritance dispute. An uncle who died left land to Michael Hargon and none to Earnest Hargon, Strain said.

"Clearly, that is a consideration in this particular investigation," he said.

Smith County Sheriff Charlie Crumpton filed arrest charges against Earnest Hargon over the weekend, giving investigators more time to hold him in custody while they worked on the disappearance case.

Michael and Rebecca Hargon and their son, James, are shown in this undated photo.
Michael and Rebecca Hargon and their son, James, are shown in this undated photo.

A small amount of methamphetamines and an illegally altered AR-15 rifle were found in his possession, Strain said.

He said the rifle was being tested against spent bullet casings found in the Hargons' house in Vaughan.

Investigators said they found blood and spent bullet casings at the house, but no signs of forced entry. Family members also said nothing appeared to be missing.

The family was reported missing February 14 after a family friend reported seeing the door open as she drove by their house.

Strain said a multi-jurisdictional task force had followed more than 400 leads in the case.

Michael Hargon is a construction worker and Rebecca Hargon a physical therapist, family members said.

CNN's Mike Brooks contributed to this report.


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