By Errol Castens
OXFORD – An Oxford woman and her younger son were shot dead in their own home early Friday morning, and by nightfall her older son, a former law enforcement officer, was accused in their deaths.
Oxford Police Chief Joey East said officers found Dr. Carol Lavett Gary, 43, and Patrick Earl Gary Jr., 12, in their home at 292 County Road 301 (South Lamar Boulevard) near Oxford’s southern limits.
Regis Mister, 25, was the person who called police to the home about 6a .m. East said Mister is a former Yalobusha County law enforcement officer and was “cooperative” during questioning.
“A lot of different things came out in the investigation, none of which we’re ready to say now, but through the investigation it was declared that Regis was involved, and an arrest was made at that time,” East said. A handgun of undetermined caliber was believed to be what killed the Garys.
Mister is charged with two counts of murder and detained at the Lafayette County Detention Center. No bond hearing is likely before Monday. The bodies have been sent to Jackson for autopsies.
All Friday morning and into the afternoon, family and friends gathered in the yard of the house next door to the Gary home, trying to comfort each other. They watched as officers from Oxford Police Department, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, the Third Judicial District Attorney’s office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) worked at the home.
“Our hearts go out to the Gary family at this tragic time,” East said. “We want to continue to pray for them. They have gone through something I hope none of us ever have to go through, and they have been so cooperative.”
Carol Gary had been a teacher and administrator in Water Valley and Batesville schools for about 15 years. Earlier this year she became principal of Davidson Elementary School in Water Valley.
“She was a true professional educator, a fine human being and a person of faith,” said Water Valley School District Superintendent Kim Chrestman. “Everything with Dr. Gary was about the students and the staff.”
Water Valley schools did not close after news of the deaths, but administrators did make both school and community counselors available to students, faculty and staff, Chrestman said.
Students at Oxford Middle School, where Patrick Gary Jr. was a student, also were offered grief counseling by school counselors and local clergy, said school district spokeswoman Kelly Graeber.
Lanelle Gayden of Winona said she’d been friends with Carol Gary for at least 20 years through church connections.
“She was real sweet. To me, she was a good person,” Gayden said.
Calandra Morgan, a teacher at Batesville Elementary School, remembered Gary as “a great person. She was a God-fearing woman who loved the Lord. She loved children with a passion. She could discipline you as a boss, but you could tell she loved you.”
Sheron Thomas, who lives across the street and a few houses up from the Gary home, said the neighborhood is, other than traffic, usually quiet.
“This is the kind of thing that’s supposed to happen somewhere else,” she said.