Child Murder Case Update

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Mississippi authorities will ask a New York judge for a court order to obtain blood samples from a woman who has reportedly admitted to smothering her daughter and leaving her body in a wooded area near downtown Jackson.

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said about 95 percent of the skeletal remains thought to be those of three-year-old Reina Russell have been removed.

The child had been missing since June 25. Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said Tina Funderburk, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, admitted to New York authorities she smothered the girl in Mississippi.

Funderburk was taking her daughter and one-year-old son on a bus trip from New York to Texas, McMillin said, when the bus stopped in Jackson and the murder occurred.

Grisham-Stewart said the Kings County, New York, District Attorney's Office plans to ask for a court order to obtain blood samples from Funderburk to help positively identify the remains. She said the blood samples are expected to be sent to her next week.

The coroner said she plans to consult with forensic pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne on whether he can establish a cause of death. If he is unable to determine a cause, she said, a forensic anthropologist may be called in.

Funderburk is being held in New York on a child endangerment charge after she reportedly jumped from a moving vehicle with her son in her arms. Mississippi officials say they will ask for her extradition from New York. McMillin said Funderburk will be charged with murder.


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