Remembering the victims, 3 years later

Published 9:00 am Thursday, May 28, 2020

Today is May 28, 2020.

Three years ago today, on Memorial Day weekend of 2017, everything changed for two families and a community that loves them over the course of eight hours from Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Cory Godbolt, in a series of violent actions in Bogue Chitto and Brookhaven, took the lives of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr, Barbara Mitchell, Toccara May, Brenda May, Austin Edwards, Jordan Blackwell, Ferral Burage and Sheila Burage.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After 33 months, a jury found Godbolt guilty of capital murder and he was sentenced to death for his crimes.

It was a sigh of relief that he would finally, officially be held accountable. But the ache of loss remains with these families.

Their loved ones cannot be replaced, only remembered and honored. In a demonstration of how moved the members of the jury were by what happened to them, several returned to the county Wednesday from their homes in DeSoto County to honor the victims and their families.

Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams wrote the following about that experience:

“Tonight 9 jurors (others wanted to come but were unavailable) traveled back to Lincoln County to pay respects to the families and loved ones lost. I was blown away by emotion and pride. In a world where there is so much much wrong, tonight was 100% right. 15 complete strangers from all walks of life became family. To see people embrace others and share stories, cry, laugh, and smile gave me hope for our future. I know Lincoln County lost 8 great people that night. But we gained 15 more. Thank you to our jurors. Thank you for your time, patience, love, and understanding. But on behalf of myself, the District Attorney’s office, and Lincoln County…thank you for JUSTICE and ACCOUNTABILITY.

“To the families of our #BogueChitto8– you will forever be in my heart. 3 years ago today was an unspeakable tragedy, but y’all have turned something terrible into something beautiful in the way you have loved each other and loved your community. You will forever have my thoughts and prayers.”

Today, Memorial Day weekend and every day of their lives, the families remember their losses. That won’t change.

I’m grateful for the hope they have found in God, in each other, in the voices and prayers and kind gestures of friends and strangers. My wife and I will be spending time with some of them today, just as friends and neighbors who love them.

Sometimes a silent presence is what’s needed.

However you choose to remember the victims and honor the families, keep them in your prayers and keep reaching out to them.