Mississippi horror: A timeline of 8 killings by one man in a single night

It began as what police always describe as a 'domestic'
Willie Corey Godbolt.
Willie Corey Godbolt.

It began, as so many American killings do, as what police always describe as a “domestic,” a man arguing about child custody with his estranged wife. It ended some seven hours later with eight dead, including a deputy sheriff and two teenage boys, in three different homes along the I-55 corridor between Jackson, Miss. and New Orleans.

Investigators expect to charge Willie Corey Godbolt, 35, with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder in connection with the rampage, but charges could change as the investigation continues, the Associated Press reported.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, family members recounted with horror and grief what they could piece together about the night that so shook this rural community.

It began at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, when a sheriff deputy responded to a domestic disturbance call at a home in Bogue Chitto, Miss.

There Godbolt demanded that his estranged wife give up their two children, the wife’s stepfather, Vincent Mitchell, told the AP. Godbolt and his wife had been “going back and forth for a couple of years with that domestic violence,” Mitchell said.

At first, when the sheriff’s deputy arrived, it seemed Godbolt would comply and leave.

But then, according to Mitchell and authorities, he pulled a gun out of his back pocket and began shooting, killing the deputy – identified as Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff William Durr – along with Godbolt’s mother-in-law, Barbara Mitchell, 55; her daughter, Toccarra May, 35; and Mitchell’s sister, Brenda May, 53.

It was around this time that Tiffany Blackwell, a mother from Brookhaven, Miss., heard from a friend in that Bogue Chitto home that Godbolt had come in and shot somebody. Blackwell, her husband and her sister, Shayla Edwards drove the 10 or 11 miles to Bogue Chitto to check on their friends, thinking there would be no harm in leaving several older children in their home at night, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

“All I know is that while we were consoling his wife’s family, he was at my sister’s home killing our children,” Shayla Edwards said.

Caleb Edwards, 15, and his younger brother, Austin, were in the living room playing video games with friends when they heard the gunshot, thinking at first it was a firecracker. Their cousin, Jordan Blackwell, 18, was talking to his girlfriend on FaceTime walking down the hallway in the Brookhaven, Miss. home.

The armed man shot at the locked front door until he could kick it in.

“I knew exactly who it was, when we started hearing it,” Caleb Edwards, 15, told the Clarion-Ledger. “I knew it was him.”

Once inside the Brookhaven home, Godbolt reportedly looked at Jordan, asking him, “Where’s your mama and daddy?” Caleb recounted.

“They’re in Bogue Chitto,” Jordan responded.

Then, Godbolt allegedly shot and killed Jordan, who died shielding his cousin Caleb from the bullets. At one point Caleb thought he’d been hit in the head by a bullet, but it was actually the impact of Jordan’s head hitting his. Godbolt also shot Caleb’s 11-year-old brother, Austin Edwards, family members told the Clarion-Ledger.

Moments later, a 16-year-old friend in the home, Xavier Lilly, tried to distract Godbolt so no one else would get shot, his grandmother, Rita Robinson told the Daily Leader. He gave him the keys he had to his mom’s car. Then Godbolt kidnapped the teen, and forced him to drive him around in the car, the grandmother alleges. Xavier told his grandmother that he remembered seeing in a movie that if someone is holding you hostage, you should keep them talking.

They “talked and talked and talked for four hours while they drove around,” she said, talking about everything from video games to God. Eventually Godbolt told him to stop driving and allowed him to leave unharmed.

When Shayla Edwards returned home, she saw her son’s body on the floor and her nephew’s on the couch, she told the Clarion-Ledger. It was a “nightmare” she said.

“My sister and I were trying to wake them up, we told them to get up, but they didn’t,” Shayla Edwards said. “It all feels like a dream. I feel like I’m getting ready to wake up and my son will be coming down that hall talking noise like he does.”

After fatally shooting the two teenagers and briefly reportedly kidnapping a third, Godbolt went to the third stop, another home in Brookhaven. There, he fatally shot Ferral Burage, 45, and Shelia Burage, 46, authorities said.

Seven hours would pass between the first shootings and Godbolt’s arrest Sunday morning near the third home in a subdivision of ranch houses.

Speaking to the Clarion-Ledger as he sat handcuffed on the side of a rode in Brookhaven, he described a custody battle with his children and said his intention was to commit suicide.

“My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets,” Godbolt told Clarion-Ledger reporter Therese Apel. “Suicide by cop was my intention. I ain’t fit to live. Not after what I done.”

Godbolt has a lengthy criminal record, including armed robbery and aggravated assault charges from 2005, simple assault charges from 2013, disorderly conduct charges from 2015 and an arrest for driving with a suspended license in the same year, according to the Daily Leader.

Godbolt remains hospitalized for treatment of a gunshot wound at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Authorities on Monday said Godbolt was related to or acquainted with all the victims except Durr, the deputy, who was married and had an 11-year-old son. Speaking to the AP, Durr’s mother, Debbie Durr, said her son was a youth minister and pastor being going into law enforcement.

“He was a good Christian man,” Debbie Durr, his mother, said at her rural home near Brookhaven.

In his spare time, Durr also was a ventriloquist who took his puppets to schools and churches. Two weeks ago, entertaining preschoolers at a school in town, Durr shared a message that people – like fireflies – can use their inner light to help those around them, school officials told the AP.

Austin Edwards, the 11-year-old boy who was killed, had been looking forward to doing one of his favorite things with his grandfather and uncle on Memorial Day: fishing. Jordan Blackwell, the 18-year-old who died, was a rising senior in high school and a football linebacker who had already started receiving interest from colleges.

Relatives and friends posted side-by-side photos of Jordan and Austin on social media over the course of the weekend, mourning their loss.

Tiffany McKinney Bass, a teacher at Brookhaven High School, wrote on Facebook that the football team and school would never be the same without Jordan.

“Pretty much every morning this past school year started off with Jordan Blackwell. . .and if you knew him, you know that every day began with entertainment!” Bass wrote. “You couldn’t help but to love this kid!!”

He attended every sporting event, and showed leadership skills at every football game, she said. He was always socializing in the hallways between classes, and “with Jordan, he was going to be himself whenever and wherever you saw him.”

“Yesterday he died being a hero,” Bass wrote, “which is exactly how he should be remembered.”

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