Neighbors react days after Oxford shooting

OXFORD – The father of the man charged in Friday’s killing in Oxford’s Grand Oaks neighborhood apologized to a neighbor over the weekend about the tense situation in the normally quiet subdivision.
Bilethon Autry, 24, was charged with capital murder Saturday evening and could face the death penalty, Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said.
Autry was arrested shortly before 4 p.m. Friday after SWAT teams from the Oxford Police Department and Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department forcibly entered his residence at 3887 Majestic Oaks Drive.
He allegedly shot and killed his brother, Charlie Hodges, 50, while his father Billy Ray Autry hid in the attic.
Phyllis Niedfeldt, who lives across the street from the Autrys at 3884 Majestic Oaks, said that Billy Ray Autry came to her house over the weekend to apologize for the commotion caused by Friday’s standoff with police, which lasted several hours.
“I told him that he did not need to apologize,” said Niedfeldt, 79. “This was a horrible family tragedy of which he had no control. I told him to go home and take care of his wife and daughter. I just feel so sorry for them.
“He didn’t need to do that, but for him to come over to try to apologize meant something.”
Bilethon Autry is in Lafayette County Jail and is not eligible for bond because of the capital murder charge.
Oxford District Attorney Ben Creekmore said Monday that he expects the investigation to be complete in time to present a case to the Grand Jury sometime in February.
Hodges was from Beloit, Wis., and visiting his family in Oxford.
Patrice Hulon was a friend of Hodges from Beloit before recently moving to Jackson, Tenn. She said that Hodges had a taxi cab business in Beloit and had been driving limousines for years.”
“He was well known and well loved in Beloit,” Hulon said. “He was a good guy. I knew him personally, and I know he was doing what he always did, which was helping and protecting and giving his life to others. He was that kind of person.”
Billy Ray Autry is a co-owner of Hodges-Serenity Funeral Home near Oxford. On Monday, the electronic sign outside of the building scrolled a message that wished condolences to the family of Charlie Ray Hodges, as well as to two other families. A man at the front desk of the funeral home said that no one there wanted to comment on the death.
Niedfeldt said the Autrys had lived across from her for just over 10 years. She said that she had a few conversations with them but that they kept to themselves most of the time that they lived there.
Meanwhile, neighbors in the Grand Oaks subdivision talked about the tragedy that had taken place in their quiet neighborhood only days earlier.
“I can say it was the first time the police have ever told me to leave my home,” said Tiffany Morris, 24, who lives at 3880 Majestic Oaks, around a corner from the Autry residence.
Morris said she first learned of the tense situation when police officers knocked on her door and told her that she and her two children –– 2 years old and 7 weeks old – needed to evacuate.
Several other neighbors said they too were told to move to a safer area while SWAT teams surrounded the Autry house.
“It was scary and nerve-wrecking because you didn’t know what was going on,” Morris said. “You didn’t know if there was a gunman running around.”
Morris’ mother, Laurie Tiat, who also lives at that address but was not home at the time, came to pick up her daughter because Morris’ car was at Walmart for an oil change.
Tiat said the police performed admirably under the circumstances. She said they helped escort Morris to safety.
“I felt like I should write a letter to them,” Tiat said. “The police were empathetic and understanding.”
Added Morris: “They kept reassuring me I was going to be OK.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662)678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal