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Mississippi minister’s wife, disabled son slain; suspect commits suicide

Les and Karen Ferguson, with their three younger sons. (Photo via Facebook.com)

Wednesday update: More details in latest story from the local newspaper.
On Monday morning, Karen Ferguson posted a Facebook message wishing her husband Les Ferguson Jr. — “the love of my life” — a happy 24th anniversary.
“You are a great husband and a great father to our four boys! I love you ALWAYS!!!!” she wrote.
Later in the day, police found the Mississippi minister’s wife and the couple’s severely handicapped son, Cole, 21, slain in their home.
The 70-year-old suspect in the double-homicide — Paul Ellis Buckman — died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his apartment about two miles away, The Sun Herald in Gulfport reported.
Buckman had attended the Orange Grove Church of Christ, where Les Ferguson ministers, until Buckman was accused a few months ago of sexually assaulting Cole, who had cerebral palsy, friends and authorities said.
The youngest of the couple’s four sons — 5-year-old Casey — ran to a neighbor’s home and survived the attack. Teenage son Conner was at a church youth event and not home. Oldest son Kyle serves as campus minister for the University Church of Christ in Murray, Ky.
“I did talk to Les for a little while this morning and just listened mostly,” said close friend John Dobbs, minister of the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, La., and a former minister of the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, Miss., not far from Gulfport.
“He’s about as you could expect, and his mind’s going a thousand different directions — everything that has to be done and nobody has experience with this,” Dobbs added. “It’s very confusing and difficult to work through.”

Karen and Les Ferguson (Photo via Facebook.com)

Les Ferguson and Dobbs both are well-known to many in Churches of Christ from their work with the relief effort and church groups from across the nation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dobbs suffered a tragedy of his own in 2008 when his 18-year-old son, John Robert Dobbs, was struck and killed on an interstate.
Les Ferguson was one of the first people to reach out to Dobbs and spoke at the funeral. After learning of Karen and Cole’s deaths, Dobbs and his wife, Maggy, immediately made the five-hour drive from Monroe to Gulfport.
Asked what one can say — as a friend and as a minister — at a time such as this, Dobbs replied, “Nothing, other than, ‘We love you’ and ‘We’re here for you.'”
“It’s really unbelievable, and he’s got a long road in front of him for sure,” Dobbs said of the tragedy.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Read my September 2010 column on Les Ferguson’s Katrina experience.

  • Feedback
    Our congregation was involved in relief efforts following hurricane Katrina and worked closely with the Orange Grove church and Les. We are praying for the Ferguson family.
    October, 11 2011

    The Faulkner family is praying for the Ferguson family during this tragedy. May God provide comfort that only He can at this time to all of you.
    Sandi Carter
    October, 11 2011

    So sad, what beautiful family. I will be praying for you my brother.
    Renee’ Holland Clark
    October, 11 2011

    May God Bless and comfort the Ferguson family during this difficult time.
    Member from Hillcrest COC, Decatur GA
    L. Carter
    October, 11 2011

    The Fergusons are among the sweetest people I know. Cole is now whole and happy. Karen is in the presence of God. Who can understand such evil? In spite of it, God is at work and His Spirit is ministering now to Les and his family.
    I love you Les. My prayers are continual.
    Danny D
    October, 11 2011

    As a mother of a child with special needs, my heart is heavy and cries out to the helplessness Cole must have felt. Yet, I’m relieved that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore and that he and his mom are at home with the Lord. We’re praying for the Ferguson family, church family and friends during this tragic time; and the relatives of Paul Ellis Buckman.
    Jackie Apparicio
    October, 11 2011

    From one Preacher’s family to another: God is a God of compassion and understanding, even if we aren’t. Our hearts and prayers go out to this fine family.
    October, 11 2011

    My heart breaks to hear of the tragic loss of this precious sister and brother in Christ. We will be lifting up the Ferguson family in prayer to the Lord of Life and Peace.
    J. Browning
    October, 11 2011

    October, 11 2011

    Our hearts at the Ruston church of Christ in Ruston, LA are breaking for the Ferguson family. Prayers are going forward for them. We know of Bro. & Sis. Ferguson, SR here in Ruston. Bro. Ferguson preached a meeting for us some years back. Praying God’s peace surrounds this family…..especially the children!
    D. Griffin, Ruston, LA
    October, 11 2011

    My heart is broken for this family. How horrifically damaging evil is. I pray for God’s protection around Les and his sons and their extended family and friends. The heartache around this tragedy is incomprehensible. May God bless them with His comfort and peace. And may all that know them minister to them in ways that will bring solace.
    Joneal Kirby
    October, 11 2011

    (I recommend Romans 8:18-27 at times like this…)
    When the moments come that you “can’t handle it” and just feel like screaming yourself hoarse, close your eyes and try to focus beyond what you see. When “everything” is beyond our control, meditate on the One who IS in control.
    Even when the words after “Dear God–” don’t flow forth in prayer, the Spirit knows our hearts and can present to the Father the petitions of our hearts that our mouths can’t even verbalize.
    Even when “one day at a time” feels like far too large of a chunk, God will help us get through one moment at a time.
    Russ Sharp
    October, 11 2011

    The Freed-Hardeman Disaster Relief Team was started by myself and a handful of others from Freed-Hardeman University… We stayed with Karen & Les during our efforts after Katrina and became close to her parents Bobby and Joan, as Bobby taught at FHU. Sad
    Harvey Stewart
    October, 11 2011

    I have known Les’ father, Les Sr., for many years. Our hearts break at the news of this tragedy. Thank God for the victory He gives us over death and the grave. Les, you can be assured your precious ones are “safe in the arms of Jesus” and you will be reunited with them one day.
    Steve Reeves
    October, 11 2011

    You are in our prayers! Just so deeply sorry! God be your strength and your comfort!
    Leana Tom Olivas
    October, 11 2011

    Blessed are they who died in the Lord and I want to say that our beloved sister and brother are now resting in the bosom of our heavenly. To you all I said keep on trusting for it is in time like this that He is nearer than we have ever imagine. May God give you the grace to bear this great lost.
    Chinedum Nwankwo
    October, 11 2011

    Les, you have experienced a trauma outside the realm of normal human experience. I would refer you to the faith-based book, “Trauma, the Pain that Stays” by Robert Hicks.
    The believers at the Pitman Road Church of Christ in NJ have collectively fallen to our knees on your behalf.
    Katherine Cooper
    October, 11 2011

    I cannot understand your grief–I have never come close to experiencing anything like what you are experiencing. Our prayers are with you all–our dear brothers. Kyle and Karissa were both our students at Faulkner. You are keenly in our thoughts today. Les (we have not met), but you are in our prayers, our brother.
    Don Myers
    October, 11 2011

    Les, I heard about this through my parents, Don and Virginia. I’m so sorry for the pain you must be suffering. I haven’t seen you or John Dobbs in so many years, but still consider you both as dear friends. I am praying for you and your family in your grief.
    Suzanne Taylor
    October, 11 2011

    I grew up in Vicksburg, MS in the I-20 congregation with Karen’s family, the Brown’s. Her father was one of Sunday school teachers. Many members of my family attended the Warrenton congregation where Les Jr grew up and his father Les Sr preached. Both families are made up of wonderful, compassionate, Christian people. My heart and my prayers go out to them in this time of tragedy.
    Perry Mangum
    October, 11 2011

    This is terrible. The Ferguson family is in my thoughts.
    October, 11 2011

    I am so sorry! I was shocked to hear of this tragedy. I am a campus minister at Murray State and know Kyle and want you to know that the campus ministers and many students at MSU are praying for the family. Kyle Ferguson is a super young man and definitely loves his family. May The Lord Jesus Christ grant comfort and peace during this very hard time.
    Mark Randall
    October, 11 2011

    I knew this great family when I used to live in Gulfport in 2006 and 2007. Words cannot give justice to the gratefulness I have for the love and encouragement this family showed me when I was at one of the lowest parts of my life.
    Les, I am truly and deeply sorry for your loss of a great son and a wonderful helpmate that worked with you all these years.
    Andrew Norris
    October, 11 2011

    Les, knowing your strength of character and love for the Kingdom, you wil be able to work through the grief process. Prayer, Christian friends and TIME will be your best allies. Dorothy and I share in your personal loss. Please pray or us.
    John Simpson
    October, 11 2011

    I pray that God will give the Ferguson family peace, a perfect peace that can come only from Him.
    Barbara Peck
    October, 11 2011

    This is when our Faith is really tested. Terrible tragedy… Know this that God Can bring anybody back to life, and when one dies physically they are in God’s hands spiritually. they really do not die…God is in control and all this will work out for those who are His, Stay True..Proverbs 3:5-6
    Douglas Carneau
    October, 11 2011

    I am sorry for the Ferguson family but happy for Karen and Cole. Psalm 116:15, “God delights in the death of His saints.” I understand the pain that the family feels at this time but I also understand the comfort that God sends. The Fergusons will be in my prayers. Heaven is even more precious now.
    Lee Ann Seideman
    October, 11 2011

    God, our precious Father, I ask you to hold Les… hold the boys… be their CLEFT IN THE ROCK… be their ROCK… be their ANCHOR in this horrific storm. Thank You, Jesus, for being our ALPHA and OMEGA, our COUNSELOR, and the QUIETER of the winds and waves. Please give Les and family Your STRENGTH for this journey. We praise You in advance for what You are doing and are going to do. Thank You, Jesus for being their ADVOCATE.
    Patti Sikes
    October, 11 2011

    Many prayers from Murray KY have flown to the throne of God today. May His peace surround your family, church, and friends in the days ahead.
    Anne Silkman
    October, 11 2011

    We at Zion Rest Church of Christ are praying!
    Donna Reese
    October, 11 2011

    Dear Mr. Ferguson,
    I just wanted to let you know that you and the rest of your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I will also let my church family know about your loss so that they will be praying for you. I know that there is nothing I can say or do to help you at this time other than pray so that is what I will do. May God Bless and keep you now and in the future.
    In Christian love,
    Beth Fullerton
    Beth Fullerton
    October, 11 2011

    I want to echo Sandi’s words that the Faulkner family is praying earnestly for the Ferguson family, and the Lupo family as well. Likewise the Landmark family is lifting you all up to the Father.
    Priscilla Farris
    October, 11 2011

    I am so sorry. Your world has to be turned upside down. Sometimes words aren’t enough, and there is probably very little that can be said right now that helps. We will be praying for you and yours. Fall into the arms of Jesus-He will carry you and your family through this. We love you.
    Kim, minister’s wife
    October, 11 2011

    Dear servants of God,
    Receive warm and lovely greetings in the precious name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I went through your website, it really touched my heart.
    I am Francis Mangera Ombogo from Kenya. I am overseeing two churches totaling 160 members. I take care of 8 orphan children whose parents died during the crisis violence election here in my country.
    Francis Mangera Ombogo
    October, 12 2011

    My prayers go to both families — the Fergusons and the Buckmans. My prayer is that the Lord will bind up your broken hearts as only He can.
    Larry Fitzgerald
    October, 12 2011

    I’m so sorry for your loss. We at the Gulf Coast Church of Christ are praying for you and your family.
    Deborah Copass
    October, 12 2011

    My heart goes out to this devastated family. May God grant peace, comfort and a sense of His continual presence in the middle of this crushing grief.
    Chris Stinnett
    October, 12 2011

    So sorry you have to go through such a tradgey. I cannot imagine how painful it must be. I can’t do much. But with the prayers of so many your pain will be easied. We are announcing your family and asking for the church here to pray for you at Wed. evening services.
    Our prayers are with you. We know that God can heal a broken heart in time.
    October, 12 2011

    I am so deeply sorry for your pain and for your loss. There are no words that can really help. Remembering you and praying for you.
    October, 12 2011

    amados hermanos, hermano Les Jr. y hijos. queremos que ustedes sepan que todos los de aca, estamos con ustedes en el Espiritu que nos une. y les damos un fraternal osculo santo como simbolo de compa�ia. “animos, perseveremos adelante””…porque fiel es aquel que prometio”. en el amor de Cristo: hermanos en Guanajuato Mexico. -Rene Ramirez
    October, 12 2011

    Prayers from your Christian family half the world away. We at the Kaiserslautern Church of Christ in Germany offer our prayers of comfort and strength in a difficult time.
    October, 12 2011

    I attended the Orange Grove church of Christ two years ago when I was stationed at Keesler AFB. Its hard to believe something like this could happen in the church, but it goes to show that Satan is alive and active. What is so disgusting to me is that Cole was so severely handicapped that he could barely even communicate. Clearly, it doesn’t appear that Paul Buckman understood God’s love and forgiveness. I pray the church at Orange Grove surrounds Les and his sons with love and understanding.
    Aron Krischel
    October, 12 2011

    It was my privilege to work and get to know the Ferguson’s briefly as choral director at Faulkner University. While I was there, the University Chorus did two hurricane relief tours, working with congregations along the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast, including the Orange Grove congregation. I can remember a couple of choral concerts given there as well. The family could be described as nothing short of peace loving, kind, giving and generous. I absolutely cannot imagine this precious family being the subjects of such a horrid, evil act.
    To Les and family, please know of the love, prayers and support we are all offering up in your behalf to our great God who alone can make all things new.
    Lester McNatt
    October, 12 2011

    Only God can comfort you and the boys at a time like this. Please know that God will use your siblings in Christ and strangers to bring you comfort. We all who know what it feels like to have the rug pulled out from under you without any warning will keep you and your family in our prayers. Remain in Christ Brother Les and He will carry you through this unbearable events.
    October, 12 2011

    John Dobbs <a href=”http://johndobbs.com/2011/10/13/jobs-ashes/” rel=”nofollow”>reflects on tonight’s</a> Orange Grove church service.
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    October, 12 2011

    Les, Kyle and Conner,
    We are in tears. God help you.
    Love always,
    Jackie and Arthur
    Jacqueline and Arthur Wiliams
    October, 13 2011

    My wife and I lost our daughter to murder two years ago this December. Our hearts go out to this family. We will be praying for you. Larry
    October, 13 2011

    Our hearts and prayers go out to you brother. In the face of unspeakable tragedy – know that life goes on now for your precious wife and child in the presence of God. May God hold you close through this storm.
    Jerry Keene
    October, 13 2011

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I could say or do more but this is one of those times when you feel helpless in the physical sence. Hugs are good because you can feel the love and strength of your friends and family and the love of God knowing He sent them to you.
    BIG hugs from me to you.
    Karen Hunsucker
    October, 14 2011

    I cannot comprehend what goes through the minds of people that think its ok to assault and kill innocent people and tear apart the lives of all those that loved them. My heart goes out to you and your family Les. Lean on Him, Beth
    Beth Storms
    October, 14 2011

    Two of your family are safe in the arms of our Lord! I’m praying for your strength and comfort according to the Father’s will and in the name of our Savior.
    October, 15 2011

    Just like everone else, I was shocked and stund to hear of your tragedy. May God give you comfort and strength during this time of sorrow. I still remember you from when you were little and played with my son, Bill(y) Tucker.
    I’ll keep you in my prayers that you and the boys will be comforted by God.
    Arlene Tucker
    October, 16 2011

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family, In Jesus name I lift up the Fergusons and the Buckmans Amen on Oct 28 it will be a year since my husband died,I have been dealing with some mixed feelings and not giving forgiveness,last night a ministry leader came on the tv after my daughters went to bed talking about the gate keepers in our lives and this morning,I was checking my e-mail and the news stories came up on the side of my screen. So now I’m typing this. I thank the Lord everyday for my church family,at the First Christian Church in Abilene,Ks. May you and your children grow even closer to our Father In Heaven.
    Susan Weberg
    October, 17 2011

    Disappointment and tragedy are things I have experienced but tragedy like you and your family are enduring I cannot fathom. I know God is in control in your lives and for reasons we will never understand He allows things like this to happen. There are a lot of people praying for you and wishing they could help ease your burden but we all know that God is always on the job and will by his grace and mercy see you through. May God bless you and your family and keep you safe. We are praying for you here at Scenic Hills in Pensacola. I Love you.
    Jan Born
    October, 17 2011

    My heart goes out and my prayers go up for this family, It is never easy to lose a loved one but with God at the for front he will get this family through this….
    October, 21 2011

    I’m so very sorry and praying for you and your family!
    March, 24 2013

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras

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