Featured photo: U.S. Forest Service
Deer camps in Bossier Parish, located in northwest Louisiana, have been targeted by local arsonists for nearly eight years. By 2017, the local sheriff’s office had a suspect, Gary Wilson, who was arrested on February 26, 2018, less than a month before the double suicide of his wife and son.
Both wife Jennifer and son Coty had been questioned by police and charges were filed against the son with more charges forthcoming for both mother and son.
It is not yet known why hunters, deer camps and hunting leases were targeted by the Wilson family, but the list of vandalism, arson and other crimes includes the following, as reported by the Shreveport Times:
- Repeated damage of ATVs, deer stands and deer camps.
- Homemade, welded spikes implanted on private gravel roadways and other areas, put there with the intent to flatten tires.
- Various crude messages found at deer camps. Messages were carved into walls, left in threatening letters or, in one case, written on a television.
- Burning of deer stands at varying hunt camps and leases and the burning of a game camera.
- Incendiary device, essentially a homemade bomb, was found in an intact deer stand. The bomb, made from an empty PowerAde bottle, diesel fuel, a cardboard toilet paper tube and a syringe, had not been detonated.
- A box suspended 10 to 12 feet in the air on land leased for hunting by a Bossier Parish resident. Inside the box was a plastic baby doll inscribed with the phrases “crybaby,” “kiss my ass,” and “Mark 13:35.”
The Bible verse referenced in the box with the baby doll, Mark 13:35, reads, “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.” (New International Version).
Suspect Gary Wilson’s son and wife were reported missing on March 15. Jennifer’s abandoned car was found parked on a bridge over the Red River. Both left goodbye notes, but there was no specific mention of suicide. Authorities searched the river for 14 days before the two bodies were found, tied together by the belt loops.
Gary Wilson also faces two counts of Communicating False Information. The arsonists attempted to frame another local man, Todd Phillips, who ultimately was arrested before being released and exonerated after an investigation that lasted for years. Two years into the investigation, Phillips and his family moved to Marshall, Texas, when the strain of the false allegations and weight of the investigations became too much. As of March 13, authorities have cleared Phillips, now 55, of all criminal charges.
According to the Shreveport Times, “He and his family are suing various parties involved in his prosecution, including the Wilson men, for damages.”
Forthcoming charges and evidence may connect Gary Wilson to roughly 60 incidents of deer camp vandalism.