Relatives say drifter slain in Missouri had drug scheme

LADDONIA, Mo. | Relatives say a drifter whose body was found in the refrigerated compartment of a tractor-trailer had schemed to sell drugs with a Missouri family charged in his death.

Authorities say James McNeely was held against his will for two days at the family's home in Laddonia, where he was beaten, kicked, suffocated with a plastic bag and strangled with wire.

Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive for the Dec. 18 slaying.

But relatives say McNeely had told them about a drug-dealing plan involving a trucker he met on the road and the trucker's son. Hubert McNeely of Columbus, Ohio, speculates that his nephew was killed for backing out of the plan.

Five members of the Laddonia family have been charged in McNeely's death. No drug charges have been filed in the case.