Local woman still grieves over friend

Family and friends are still grieving the loss of Gautier resident Amanda Hicks. Hicks was found dead behind a Vancleave church in March after the mobile home she and her boyfriend lived in burned to the ground. A funeral for Hicks will be held Saturday.
News 25’s Taylor Rubach sat down with local minister Darlene Carrol as she and others prepare to bid their last farewell to the 37-year-old woman whose life ended much too soon.
Neighbors looked on in disbelief as the mobile home Amanda Hicks shared with her 56-year-old boyfriend James Vanlaningham went up in flames back in early February of this year. Family and friends had hoped for the best, but their worst fears were confirmed a few weeks later when parishioners discovered her remains in a wooded area behind their church in Jackson County. Minister Darlene Carrol said, “I had spoken with the police officer in charge and the detective and then the news came and I literally sat in my apartment and just screamed.”
Witnesses in Santa Maria RV Park say they heard a woman scream inside the mobile home before it went up in flames. Soon after Hicks’ body was found, police arrested her live in boyfriend, James Vanlaningham, and charged him with first degree murder.
As Vanlaningham sits in jail, awaiting trial, family and friends like Minister Darlene Carrol are still coping with their loss. “It’s just sad that someone so young, so vibrant, so full of love. Had to go in such a way and I just have to say if women are in an abusive relationship. I had counsel with Amanda and told her many times, leave please, but there was such fear there.”
Carrol knows she can’t bring her best friend back, but she hopes she can share a life-saving message with others. “There is life after domestic violence, but get out while you can.”
Meanwhile, Carrol and others will hold tight to their memories and the good times they shared with Hicks as they prepare to bid their final farewells this weekend. “She was the best of the best. My life was richer and I was blessed for knowing her.”

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