Smiling man with thinning hair in front of a manila folder stamped "Alibi"

Rayburn alibi canvass


Investigating Officer(s): Det. T. Armstrong, Det. S. Murphy
Incident No.: 003189-10G-2021
Case Description: Robert Pruitt-John Doe homicide investigation

The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department conducted a canvass in the area of Gary Rayburn's residence (11 County Road 302) and along the route between that location and the Chevron Food Mart (502 S Lamar Blvd), where he said he purchased snacks on the night of July 9, 2021.

Investigators were looking for potential witnesses who might have seen Gary Rayburn that night. The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all interviews conducted.

Cumberland & Dakota

Alice Cumberland
76, performance artist, 218 Williams Ave

Buzz Dakota
72, retiree, 111 Price Hill Road

The witnesses said they were standing together across the street from the Chevron Food Mart on the night of July 9, 2021, from an hour before the Rib Cage Street Party until an hour after the party ended.

Cumberland said she was conducting an act of civil disobedience by standing on the street during the street party to protest the emphasis placed on revelry and dancing, which she was against.

Dakota said he was afraid that Cumberland would be abducted by aliens and so remained at her side to provide security.

Neither individual could identify specific vehicles that entered the Chevron parking lot, nor did they have definite recollections of any individuals who entered or left the store. However, both agreed that vehicles did enter and leave the convenience store lot and that individuals did enter and leave the store.


Joe Fenton
1903 Anderson Road

Mr. Fenton, 19, was working as a clerk at the Chevron Food Mart the night of July 9, 2021.

He said there wasn't much business that night due to the Rib Cage Street Party.

The store's sales records show the cash purchase of various snack items at 9:11 p.m., and Fenton recalled that a man purchased the items. He described the male as "not an old man and not a young kid, but somewhere in between — maybe." Fenton said he remembered the man because the young guy in line behind him was "raising a ruckus" because he was in a hurry to make his purchases.

Fenton said he was listening to the news on the radio and didn't pay much attention to the customers, but he remembered the incident with the young guy and the other man because the young guy made such a fuss. Fenton said he might recognize the young guy if he saw him again but did not think he could identify the older man.

Fenton said the store did have security cameras, and the cameras were on and functional, but there was no tape in the recorder "and ain't been for almost the year I been working here." Fenton went on to say that the owner was "too cheap" to buy tapes.


Alan Townsend
14 County Road 302

Mr. Townsend, 32, is a local delivery truck driver and the husband of Melissa Townsend (below). They reside in a home across the street from Rayburn's residence.

Mr. Townsend said he watched baseball on TV that evening and that Rayburn's house "could have burned to the ground," and he wouldn't have noticed.

Melissa Townsend
14 County Road 302

Mrs. Townsend, 31, is an office manager and the wife of Alan Townsend (above). They reside in a home across the street from Rayburn's residence.

Mrs. Townsend said that she spent the night going back and forth between the kitchen and her sitting room, which has a view of the road between her residence and the Rayburn residence.

She said she saw vehicle lights go past the Rayburn residence "sometime around 9:00 p.m." and added that she was glad she wasn't the only one not glued to the television that night as her husband was. The vehicle, which she could not identify, was traveling in a direction away from Mr. Rayburn's house "towards town."


Reeves Turner
223 Sivley Street

Turner, 31, is an accountant.

Credit card records from the Chevron Food Mart indicate that Turner charged $24.20 of pretzels, cookies, chips, and dip at approximately 9:14 p.m. on July 9, 2021. Turner said he was in a hurry because he had run out of snacks for his daughter's slumber party, but there was some "big, kinda fat, almost bald guy in my way" at the store.

Turner could not further identify the individual in question. He remembered that there was another vehicle in the parking lot when he arrived but could recall no details about the vehicle.



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