In ‘Still Wrestling,’ minister whose wife, son were slain explores faith, doubt
A double murder. A destroyed family. A shattered faith. After…
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.”
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.
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