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Jackson State Campus Mourns Death of Student Who Was Missing For Weeks

The body of Jackson State University student Latasha Norman was found in a wooded area about 10 miles from the campus, near Tougaloo College, on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 29, authorities reported.

According to police reports, officers located the body after obtaining information from Stanley Cole, 24, Norman’s ex-boyfriend, who was questioned by police earlier in the day.

Classes on Friday, Nov. 30, at Jackson State were canceled in observance in Norman’s memory, and a memorial service was scheduled for noon Monday, Dec. 3, in the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium on the main campus.

Norman, 20, had been missing since Nov. 13. She was last seen on JSU’s campus after a business management class. The professor who taught that class, Dr. Joann White, praised Norman as a top student and “an independent thinker. She seemed to have had her head on straight and she knew what she wanted out of life.”

Cole has been arrested and charged with Norman’s murder. He is being held in jail without bond.

Ambriel Woods, 22, a senior accounting major at Jackson State University, had recently been roommates with Norman on a service trip with the Jackson State University Accounting Society, for which Woods serves as president. Norman was the Student Government Association representative for the organization. Woods helped to organize the Latasha Norman Family Relief Fund along with the JSU College of Business and the JSU Alumni Association.

“I last saw Latasha the Monday before she turned up missing,” Woods told Black College Wire Thursday before Norman’s body was found. “We were just talking about which classes she was going to take and with whom. Everything seemed normal. I never saw anything out of the ordinary from her.”

Woods described Norman as “quiet” and “shy” and said she knew very little about her close friends or campus involvement other than her activities with the Accounting Society and the Student Publications Office, which produces the Blue and White Flash newspaper and the Jacksonian yearbook.

Candace Frazier, 21, a junior political science major from Holly Bluff, Miss., was enjoying the end-of-the-semester festivities and the Black College Football Experience touring exhibit when she said that the once-somber mood of the campus had returned to normal on Thursday before the news of Norman’s death was announced.

Initially, Frazier said, members of JSU’s campus believed that Norman might have traveled off-campus to escape the rigors of mid-term examinations and hadn’t alerted her friends or family. As time went on however, students and faculty knew that something was “very wrong.”

Kilwarner Coleman, 21, a of Waukegan, Ill., resided in the dormitory with Norman. Coleman told Black College Wire, “She had a great personality. Every time you would see her she had a smile on her face.”

And Leslie Denise Brown, 22, an athletic education major at Delta State University, said she met Norman just after the younger woman graduated from high school and cautioned her about college life. “I was telling her about my first year in college and to be careful because everybody you meet is not your friend. I was also telling her how not to fall for any and everything because people tend to take advantage of freshmen. She was so sweet.”

The Jackson State University Web site reported that two bank accounts have been set up to assist Latasha Norman’s family.

The family opened the Latasha Norman Family Relief Fund at the Woodrow Wilson branch of the Trustmark Bank, and the Jackson State University National Alumni Association has placed a PayPal link on the JSUNAA Web site to accept donations for the family.

–J. Samuel Cook-Dormoh, Black College Wire

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