Relative of missing family charged over meth, weapon
Monday, March 1, 2004
TAYLORSVILLE, Miss. -- A relative of a family of three who disappeared on Valentine's Day was charged Sunday with a drug and firearms violation, and authorities said other charges were expected.
Authorities have not said whether they believe Michael and Rebecca Hargon and their 4-year-old son, James Patrick, are still alive. Blood and spent bullet casings were discovered at the family's home in Yazoo County.
"At this time, the whereabouts of the Hargon family are still unknown," said State Highway Patrol spokesman Warren Strain.
Rebecca Hargon is the daughter of Bill and Linda Hirtz of Poplar Bluff, Mo. The couple's daughter was born in Cape Girardeau.
Earnest Lee Hargon, an adopted cousin of Michael Hargon, was charged with a single count of possession of methamphetamines while also in possession of a firearm. The firearm is an AR-15 assault rifle, which Strain said could be converted into an automatic weapon.
Hargon faced an arraignment hearing today in Yazoo County, north of Jackson.
The drug and firearm charge was filed in southern Mississippi's Smith County, where Earnest Hargon and his wife live on 160 acres. Sheriff Charlie Crumpton said an arraignment would be scheduled by Wednesday on those charges.
Hargon was being held in an undisclosed location.
Strain said possible evidence was found Saturday at Hargon's property but would not elaborate. On Sunday about 50 officers, using dogs, helicopters, backhoes and all-terrain vehicles, searched the wooded property, which is near Taylorsville and includes a veterinary clinic where Earnest Hargon's wife works as a veterinarian.
Investigators also have been checking land in Madison County that Michael Hargon recently inherited from his uncle, Charles Hargon, to determine if it is linked to the disappearance, said Jennifer Hargon, Michael's sister. Earnest Hargon, Charles Hargon's adopted son, was not included in the will, she said.
Strain said the Madison County property "could be a potential motive, but it's not the only one." He said other evidence collected in the searches has linked Hargon to the family's disappearance, but he declined to elaborate.
Investigators have not found a .22-caliber weapon that apparently was fired in the missing family's home.
Lisa Ainsworth, Earnest Hargon's wife, has been questioned at least twice, Strain said. He declined to comment whether she provided evidence against Earnest Hargon.
Authorities said rain, forecast for today and Tuesday, could hamper search efforts. They have declined to say whether they were looking for bodies or for other evidence.
Taylorsville Mayor Ron Walker called Earnest Hargon "quiet and cordial" and said he knew Ainsworth and her family.
"Lisa is the vet in town, she and her family are well-known," Walker said. "Her family is well-respected hard-working people. I'm sorry they're having to go through this."