By Michael Stewart
A Meridian man is in custody in the Forrest County jail on a charge of murder after a body was discovered in a car near a church in Hattiesburg.
Michael Joseph Sullivan, Jr., 21, is charged with first degree murder. He is being held on a written bond of $1 million, according to information on the Forrest County Sheriff's Office website.
Sullivan was arrested in Hattiesburg Saturday after police found a body inside a car while responding to a call of a suspicious vehicle, Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said in a telephone interview.
Traxler said police responded to a call at about 11:20 a.m. Saturday of a suspicious vehicle at 101 McCall St., near the New Jerusalem Temple of God.
"A white male came out behind the building and when he saw the officer he ran," Traxler said.
After a short foot chase the man, identified by police as Sullivan, was arrested and taken into custody.
When officers searched the vehicle they found a deceased man beneath some clothes in the passenger seat.
"Officers also noticed blood all over the passenger side of the vehicle," a police incident report states.
Traxler was unable to identify the victim. An attempt to reach Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict was unsuccessful.
WDAM reports, however, that authorities have identified the victim as Phillip Shane Mattar, 34, of Hattiesburg.
Traxler said the body was sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Jackson for an autopsy. A cause of death has not been released.