Man charged in recent slaying; crime scene home burned Mon.

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 19, 2016


Panola County arson investigator Terry Mills with the sheriff’s department would only say that an early Monday house fire, the scene of a fatal shooting a week earlier, was being investigated as suspicious in nature due to previous circumstances. Please see related story.

Man charged in recent slaying; crime scene home burned Mon.

By Rupert Howell
James Thomas Barefoot of Charleston has been charged with capital murder following the Monday, August 8 shooting incident that left him wounded, his wife, Jennifer Hargett Barefoot, dead, and his sister, Vikki Barefoot Holland, wounded.
The incident occurred behind the home of Holland on Hentz Road, between I-55 and Highway 51 near Pope, a home that was completely destroyed by fire early Monday, August 15.
Panola County fire coordinator Daniel Cole said the alarm went out about 6 a.m. with three fire departments, Pope, Courtland and Bynum, responding.
Sheriff Dennis Darby, who last week indicated the case would go before a grand jury, said Monday that District Attorney John Champion was in on the decision to go ahead and charge Barefoot, stating there was enough evidence to find probable cause while noting the incident remains volatile.
Darby also noted that arson investigator Terry Smith was looking into Monday’s fire,  noting that an unrelated witness had confirmed previous electrical problems in the house.
Smith confirmed Monday the fire was being investigated as suspicious in nature due to circumstances surrounding it. Smith said he had learned that lightning had struck the home prior to the August 8 shooting, causing electrical problems.
According to Smith’s investigation, a passerby had reported the fire early Monday morning after indicating the fire must have been under way for a while prior to being noticed. One fire official said no one was at the residence which sits approximately one-quarter mile south of Hentz Road.
The sheriff indicated that the shooting occurring behind the house near or in an outbuilding might have been due to the electrical problems within the home prior to the shooting, according to investigators.

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