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Deadly Booby Trap Was Just One Of Louisiana Family's Bizarre Series of Crimes, Cops Say

The dad is in jail for setting a booby trap cops say was designed to murder officers. His wife and son — alleged accomplices — plunged from a bridge in an apparent double suicide. 

By Will Huntsberry

Deadly spiked booby traps, dozens of hunting lodge arsons, a double suicide and now attempted murder of an officer — cops in Louisiana say one family is largely responsible for it all.

A mother, father and son carried out a bizarre string of crimes that has terrorized a rural community near Shreveport since 2010, according to the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“There was real panic in the community,”  Lt. Bill Davis of the Bossier sheriff’s office told Oxygen.com.

Gary Wilson (mug shot above), the father, and his son, Coty Wilson, built a mock grave site that contained a covered pit with large rusty spikes and tried to lure officers there, Davis said. Gary Wilson was charged with attempted murder earlier this month, Davis said. Wilson's wife, Jennifer Wilson, and son Coty Wilson died in an apparent double suicide in March, days after the son was released on bond.

Cops suspect Wilson and his family carried out a string of at least 60 arsons, vandalisms and other crimes since 2010. Investigators say they discovered inscrutable clues at various Wilson family crime scenes — from taunting letters to Bible scripture scrawled on potato chip bags and a rotting possum on a grill, according to the Shreveport Times.

So far, sheriff’s officers don’t have a motive for the terror-inducing crimes. “The only people who do know: One is in jail—and he isn’t saying much—and two are dead,” Davis said.

Mother and son tied their belt loops together with a rope before jumping off a bridge near their home, according to Davis. Their bodies were found miles downstream.

The mother, 53, and son, 31, shared a “unique bond,” according to Davis, “and appeared to be very close.” Coty Wilson still lived at home. “When you’re in your thirties you go visit your parents, but you don’t usually live with them. He kept to himself is how I understand it,” Davis said.

The hunting camp arsons stretched from 2010 to 2016 in southern Louisiana, which bills itself as the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”  The fires and vandalism caused several hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. One judge who has reviewed evidence in the case said the crimes may be the result of ongoing family feuds in the area.

“We worked really hard for a long time to catch whoever was doing this,” Davis said. “But we just couldn’t catch the bad guy.”

Gary Wilson initially stepped forward to cops as an informant, rather than a suspect. Some of his property was damaged and he provided information that led to charges against a local businessman named Todd Phillips, who initially became the lead suspect in the arson cases. The charges against Phillips, 55, have since been dropped, according to Davis.

Then, in January 2017, authorities received a letter with GPS coordinates marking the mock gravesite, which turned out to be a booby trap. Arrows marked the way down a path, where authorities discovered a deep well covered over with chicken wire and sharp, rusty pipes beneath. 

Investigators tied that site to the Wilsons and in February, sheriffs arrested Gary and Coty Wilson and charged them with a series of crimes related to vandalism and arson. They suspected Jennifer Wilson of being involved but did not arrest her at that time, Davis said. Only Coty was able to post bond.

Soon after, on March 15, Jennifer Wilson’s silver Chevrolet Impala was found parked on a bridge over the Red River with a “goodbye” note inside, according to sheriff’s documents. No bodies were immediately found, and many community members suspected the two had fled the state. Even though Gary Wilson worked as a beaver trapper, authorities say, the family had several hundred thousand dollars—some of which may have come from insurance fraud—they might have used to flee.

Two weeks to the day after their disappearance, sheriff’s deputies discovered their bodies, badly decomposed, in the river.

[Photos: Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office]

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