Neighbors shocked at arrest of 'Roadside Killer'

(WMC-TV) - Neighbors in Sardis are shocked after hearing the accused roadside killer is from their small town.

There are only about 2,000 people in the community and everybody knows everybody.

People living there say they think Willie grew up in the Courtland area and must have recently moved to town.

"When we first heard the name James Willie, it sounded familiar, and I said, 'I don't know anybody like that, but it does sound familiar,'" said longtime Sardis resident John Reed.

On Friday, the buzz in the small downtown was about suspected killer James Willie.

"I was talking to some of my coworkers and they told me he was from Sardis and that's heartbreaking man," Reed said.

Investigators say Willie shot and killed an elderly man passing through Panola County, and a casino worker on her way home.

A few miles from the town is Ballentine Road, where authorities say Willie lived. A stone's throw away is Hebron Baptist Church.

"I never expected it to be someone this close to home," said Pastor Terry Tribble.

Tribble has led the congregation at the church for six years. He says it's time for the community to stand up to violence that seems to be trickling in.

"We should not look at racial lines we should all come together because this is for all of us," said Tribble.

Back in town, Reed couldn't agree more.

"Our churches are the key, prayer is the key to it all. We know these are tough times that we're living in," Reed said.

On Sunday, that's exactly what Tribble and his congregation will do.

"During our worship service we'll have special prayer not only for him [Willie], but for those families that are grieving at the loss of their loved ones," Tribble said.

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