By Errol Castens
OXFORD – This town is accustomed to being in the public eye for tailgating, literature and small-town charm. In a community where parking and historic preservation are what usually pass for problems, it’s a shock for Oxonians to be asked to discuss a homicide in their midst.
Friday morning, Carol Gary, 43, and her son, Patrick Earl Gary Jr., 12, were discovered dead of gunshot wounds in their 292 County Road 301 home in usually quiet South Oaks, a middle-class subdivision that fronts on South Lamar Boulevard.
Gary was principal of Davidson Elementary School in Water Valley and Patrick was a student at Oxford Middle School. Their bodies were sent to the State Crime Lab for autopsy Friday but the results were not available Saturday.
Gary’s older son, Regis Mister, 25, was arrested Friday and charged with two counts of murder after submitting to questioning by investigators from Oxford Police Department and other agencies. Mister is being held at Lafayette County Detention Center. An initial court appearance is expected Monday in Lafayette County Justice Court.
Gregg Davidson, who lives nearby, said police asked on Friday if his family had heard anything unusual after midnight Thursday.
“My daughter was up all night, but she didn’t hear anything,” he said.
Residents at two neighboring homes who declined to be identified in print said they had never seen or heard anything at the Gary home that gave them concern about their safety. Both insisted they’d always considered their neighborhood a safe one.
Oxford Police Chief Joey East said Mister, who sometimes lived at his mother’s home, was a former Yalobusha County law enforcement officer.
Yalobusha County Sheriff Lance Humpheys could not be reached Saturday for questions about Mister’s tenure with the department, but WTVA reported that Mister had been a school resource officer in the Water Valley School District and that he was terminated after misusing the department’s fuel payment card.
“The Yalobusha County Sheriff Department sends our condolences to the family of Dr. Carol Gary and her son P.J.,” said the department’s Facebook page. “Dr. Gary was a beloved member of our community and will be sorely missed. She was truly an educator by heart and her passion for her students was evident by the way she cared for each student.”
Funeral arrangements are pending with Eddie Robinson Funeral Home in Grenada.
After devoting much available manpower to crime-scene security and investigation on Friday, Oxford police also dealt with a double-fatality wreck early Saturday morning – while also dealing with the mass of traffic and other public safety issues that come with an SEC football game in town.
Oxford Police Maj. James Owens said the coinciding of crises was a challenge to the department, “but that’s what policing is,” he said.