updated 10/6/2011 12:35:43 PM ET 2011-10-06T16:35:43

A child returning from school found the bodies of a man and two women in a house in coastal Mississippi, and police are investigating the deaths as homicides.

The Harrison County coroner's office told The Associated Press that autopsies were being performed Thursday. The identities of the victims were not immediately released. They were found in a house in D'Iberville, a town of about 9,400 people just north of Biloxi on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Paul Powell, 57, said he was working on a customer's hot rod car Wednesday in front his business, Stringer Auto Center, when an extremely distraught little girl, about 6 years old, walked up to him.

"I looked up and there was a little girl. I could tell she was really super upset, crying and couldn't really talk and she's just saying, 'our waitress killed my aunt.' And I said, 'what', and she said, 'he killed my aunt,'" Powell recalled.

Powell called police. He said he's not sure what the girl may have meant when she said a waitress killed her aunt. The child said "waitress," but also said "he," Powell said, adding that she was emotional and may have been confused.

D'Iberville officials referred questions to Police Chief Wayne Payne, who was on the scene Thursday morning and not immediately available for comment.

State Rep. Casey Eure, whose district includes D'Iberville, said he was told the family owns the Chinese Happiness Restaurant in the city. Nobody answered the phone at the restaurant on Thursday, and the voice mail box was full.

Eure said the young girl had been seen with her father Wednesday morning just before she got on a school bus.

"When she came home from school she found what I'm presuming to be her family dead in the house," Eure said.

Powell said his shop is about five buildings from the house where the bodies were found and he's not sure why the little girl came there.

"She was telling my son that her brother should be getting home from school any minute. Next thing I know there's about 10 police cars there," Powell told the AP. "My stomach's still quivering after seeing that little girl in that condition. It's spooky."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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