Nephew held in slaying of aunt in Coffee County

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) -- The nephew of an elderly Coffee County woman has been charged with murder in her beating death.

Coffee County Jail officials said Friday 49-year-old Jeffrey Smithson is held on a first-degree murder charge.

Manchester Police Department investigator Billy Butler said Friday 81-year-old Virginia White had been strangled and beaten. The specific cause of her death will be established by a medical examiner.

Smithson was arrested after police spotted the victim's car in the woods Thursday afternoon. He has also been charged with auto theft.

Neighbors of White called police Wednesday night, saying they hadn't seen her in several days

Mitch Ferguson of Murfreesboro, Smithson's lawyer, said Friday he had met briefly with his client and expects to meet with him further before a bond hearing Tuesday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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