James B. Covington was born on October 12, 1984 to Gary and Francine Bradford Covington who were in their late 40s at the time. Gary was a building inspector and Francine a store manager. James, called "Jamie" by everyone but his parents, is their only child.
School records show a pattern of teacher-prompted visits to school psychologists and outside social workers. Jamie is never described as troublesome, merely troubled. Whatever the root of the behavior which brought him to his teachers' attention, he continued seeing therapists of one sort or another until he graduated.
Several high school teachers summed up Jamie as too smart for his own good but not smart enough to save himself. When there wasn't enough of a challenge to keep him interested, he simply disengaged rather than complete the necessary task and then perhaps build on his accomplishment. If he knew he could do something, he often didn't bother.
Jamie attended Old Miss for one semester but then stayed there for a second, bedding down with whoever allowed him to crash for a few nights or weeks. He continues to be friends with alumni who live in the area and appears to cultivate friendships with new students who are still attending school. These two groups provide the core of his social life.
Neighbors and other residents say Jamie is nice enough but that he often leaves them feeling a little uneasy because it's difficult to know when he is being serious and when he is somehow mocking them.
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