Sheriff: 17-year-old confessed to grandma's murder


    James Gizzi w fire scene.jpg

    The 17-year-old grandson who was the prime suspect in his grandmother's murder confessed to Mississippi authorities, Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes tells NewsChannel 12.

    NewsChannel 12 learning Friday morning that James Gizzi was brought back to Craven County Thursday night from Mississippi where he was arrested earlier this week. He had allegedly fled there with his mother's car. He was extradited back to North Carolina on a charge of felony larceny of a stolen vehicle.

    Gizzi is now charged with an open count of murder, first-degree arson and felony cruelty to animals in addition to the larceny charge.

    He's accused of killing his grandmother, Marjorie Thompson, and her dog, then burning down the house she lived in along NC-55 in the rural community of Jasper. He then allegedly stole her 2016 Toyota Camry and drove it to Mississippi, where he met up with his 19-year-old brother, John. John remains in Caledonia, Mississippi, where he faces charges of felony possession of a motor vehicle.

    Hughes told NewsChannel 12 reporters Daisha Jones and Katie Caviness that Gizzi confessed to the crimes while in custody in Mississippi.

    "He said, 'I did it,'" Hughes said.

    Gizzi appeared in court Friday morning and asked for court appointed counsel. He is being charged as an adult and is being held without bond at the Craven County Detention Center.

    District Attorney Scott Thomas said that if convicted, Gizzi faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Because of his age, he is ineligible for the death penalty.

    Gizzi's next court appearance is March 1.

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    A suspect in the fatal house fire in the Jasper Community of Craven County has been arrested in Mississippi.

    Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes spoke exclusively with NewsChannel 12's Daisha Jones on Tuesday before a 5 p.m. press conference to announce details. He said James Christopher Gizzi, 17, was arrested on Monday in Caledonia, Miss. He was a suspect in the death of his grandmother, Marjorie Thompson.

    Hughes said they received a tip Gizzi was staying at his brother's house in Mississippi and was later arrested. Hughes said Gizzi was stopped by a Lowndes County Sheriff's deputy while driving a 2016 Toyota Camary, which officials said belongs to Gizzi's mother.

    The Craven County Sheriff's Office also announced Tuesday on its Facebook page that Gizzi's brother, John Gizzi, 19, is charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

    Currently, Gizzi has been charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle and is being held in Mississippi without bond, pending extradition back to Craven County. The investigation continues into possible arson and homicide charges along with animal abuse after a dog was also found dead in the fire.

    An autopsy on Thompson's body has been conducted in Greenville. A preliminary cause of death is homicide, according to a report given to Jones by Sheriff Hughes.

    The house fire was reported just after 2 a.m. Monday. Thompson's body was found after the fire was put out. Hughes told Jones that Thompson was dead at the time of the fire but they were waiting for additional evidence to make a definitive conclusion.

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