Two held without bond in murder of Celeste McDonald

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

On April 1 authorities found a body in shallow water in Mound, Louisiana across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg. The deceased female was later identified as 21-year-old Celeste McDonald of Lena. Earlier that day, McDonald had been reported missing by family members in Scott County.

Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee said that McDonald’s family members witnessed her get into the car with her alleged murderers. “McDonald got into the car with the suspects here in Scott County willingly,” Lee said. “Multiple family members witnessed her getting in the car and were able to relay this information to us after she was reported missing.”

In a prepared statement the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said that due to the combined investigative efforts of the MBI, Louisiana State Police, Madison Parish Sheriff’s Department, Scott County Sheriff’s Department, Jackson Police Department and Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, two suspects were identified and arrested. Ryan Christopher Hopkins, 33, of Jackson and Yolanda Michelle Torns, 46, of Jackson were arrested and charged with First-Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder.

MBI officials said McDonald was killed in Jackson late Sunday night. Investigators were tipped off about her body being in Louisiana.

Hopkins and Torns appeared in court on April 4, where they were denied bond. They are both currently being held at the Hinds County Detention Center.

McDonald was a student at Mississippi College in Clinton and would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on April 6. Her family joined together at Blutcha Church of God in Christ in Hillsboro for a candle light vigil to celebrate McDonald’s birthday and life this past Saturday.

One family member said the family is grateful to the law enforcement agencies involved and that they are happy they made a quick arrest, but that does not bring Celeste back to them. All the family wants now is justice for McDonald. 

Sheriff Lee said that this investigation is being headed up by the MBI and that the Scott County Sheriff’s Department is working with the other agencies in this investigation. “We have acted as the hub of the investigation because this is where it all started and the family of the victim is here in Scott County,” he said.

This continues to be an ongoing investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.