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Sheriff’s department investigates deaths

The brother of a man who allegedly shot and killed an intruder Saturday who killed his wife, said that his brother, Clinton “Michael” Smith, and his neighbor, Jose Benitez, had a rocky relationship for months and that a unrestrained pit bull was a catalyst in the ongoing feud.

Earlier this morning, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department announced it was investigating two deaths.

According to Investigator Alan Wilburn, deputies responded to 8 County Road 3011 and upon arrival found there had been an altercation.

Melisa Smith, 45, and Jose Benitez, 26, were both pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi.

Smith’s husband, Clinton “Michael” Smith was taken into custody and later released.

Smith’s brother, Bill Smith, said Michael was “OK,” and being cared for by family members.

The incident is still under investigation by the sheriff’s department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and no arrests have been made.

According to unconfirmed reports from family members, Benitez, who lived near the Smiths,  broke into the home and got into a struggle with Smith, killing her. Michael Smith then woke up and saw the struggle and shot the intruder.

Investigators are awaiting results of an autopsy before releasing more details.

Wilburn said the sheriff’s department has responded to the area for numerous animal complaints involving a pit bull.