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Warrant paints gruesome death of 74-year-old woman

Phillip Jason Smith arrested in murder of his great-aunt Janice Fulton

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An arrest warrant affidavit obtained Friday paints a gruesome death of a 74-year-old Jacksonville woman last month. 

Phillip Jason Smith, 37, was arrested in the murder of his great-aunt, Janice Walker Fulton, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Police learned about Fulton's disappearance when family called the afternoon of Jan. 26 to report her missing. According to a police report, she had not been seen since Jan. 21, and something in the house made officers believe her safety was at risk.

The new arrest affidavit revealed that the cause for concern was a large amount of blood inside Fulton's home on the city's Westside. 

According to the report, when Fulton's family went to her home after not hearing from her in several days, they found blood, so they called police and Smith, who lived with her.

Smith told the family members over the phone that he didn't know where his great-aunt was, and "provided false information to the family concerning his current whereabouts," the document said. 

When officers arrived, they saw the blood in the home and put out a missing-person alert. 

According to JSO, Fulton was found dead later that evening in Henry County, Georgia, south of Atlanta, after Smith had stopped for gas in the Kia Optima that police were looking for.

Locust Grove police -- who were alerted the car might be in their area when JSO pinged the GPS tracker in the car -- located the vehicle about 10 p.m. and took Smith into custody.

Georgia detectives found Fulton's "body wrapped up in a tarp inside the car," the arrest affidavit said. 

The report also noted that Fulton had blunt force trauma injuries on her head. 

Later, when JSO obtained a warrant to search Fulton's home, police said they found blood in multiple rooms, along with bleach and cleaning supplies. 

Smith was returned to Jacksonville on Tuesday and booked into the Duval County. He was ordered held without bond. 


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