A Columbus woman is in custody in Louisiana after Mississippi authorities say she killed one of her three sons in a hotel there.
Latina Marie Oates, 33, of Lariat Court was arrested in New Orleans on a first-degree murder charge related to her son’s death, according to The Clarion Ledger in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation had issued an Amber Alert for Oates’ 9- and 6-year-old sons after a third son, identified as 11-year-old Joshua Oates, was found dead around 11:30 a.m. March 17 in a hotel room in Laurel, Mississippi.
The other two children were found safe in a vehicle at the time of her arrest and are in protective custody.
Joshua Oates was a student at Worthington Schools' Liberty Elementary School near Powell, according to an email sent to district families by Superintendent Trent Bowers on Wednesday, March 18.
"We are shocked and heartbroken," Bowers wrote. "If your child knew Josh or has a friend who knew Josh, it is not easy to talk with children about something as sad as death. We wish we could protect them from pain and grief associated with loss, but that is not possible or helpful to them. The best thing we can do is to make sure they have honest information. It needs to be in a way they can deal with and understand. They need to know that you and other caring adults, such as their teachers, are willing to listen to their feelings and will answer their questions about death and dying.
"Grief over the loss of someone can take a long time to heal. However, if you believe that your child seems especially upset or is experiencing unusual behaviors, you may wish to make a referral for additional professional support. If you believe your child needs immediate assistance, please contact Nationwide Children’s Hospital Crisis Hotline at 614-722-1800."
Like all public schools in Ohio, the Worthington district is closed by an order from Gov. Mike DeWine to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but if students were "struggling with the news of Josh’s death, please feel free to email your school counselor, and we will work to get in touch with you," Bowers wrote.
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Dispatch reporter Bethany Bruner and ThisWeek editor Neil Thompson contributed to this report.