Wayne Fisher was born on September 15, 1959, in Damascus, Mississippi, to Jimmie and Esther Fisher. Jimmie worked at a pulpwood factory, and Esther took care of Wayne and his four brothers and sisters. Members of the community recall the Fisher family as balanced on the edge between being respectable and being "trashy."
Finances seemed to often drive Jimmie Fisher to the wrong side of the law, and criminal records show that he was convicted of several minor charges for things such as gambling and delivering illegal alcohol.
"He wasn't a bad sort," retired police officer William Jennings said. "When we caught him, he'd always pull over, just give up, be real respectful. You never had to worry about no ruckus from Jimmie Fisher. He just felt like he had a job to do and the police had a job to do, and if we won a particular battle, then he was OK with tipping his hat to us."
Church members recalled that Esther fought to keep the family on the proper path . They said that after each of Jimmie's arrests, for a few weeks the Fishers would appear in church on Sunday mornings.
"But then, things'd get tight, Jimmie'd do what he did, and he'd wind up in trouble again," said Officer Jennings.
There are scant records for Wayne's school career. A fire in 1978 wiped out most of the records from the time he would have attended school.
Retired schoolteacher Crystal Emerson said that Wayne was unremarkable. "He didn't do much wrong, and he didn't do much right. You have to realize, we're talking about an extremely small school in an extremely rural community. Not too many of our students were going to become lawyers or doctors. They did their time, and when they were of age, their parents signed them out, and they went to work cutting timber or loading pulpwood or something."
The local timber industries and factories are also lacking detailed records for the time periods when Wayne Fisher might have been employed directly after terminating his schooling.
The first substantial records appear in 1977, when Wayne enlisted in the army. Attempts to get access to detailed service records for Wayne Fisher have been rebuffed, but interviews with some on the periphery at the time revealed that he spent five years in the service. Military personnel would not comment on how Wayne spent his time during his enlistment, citing privacy and confidentiality requirements, but did say he received an honorable discharge.
Wayne's record resurfaces in 1983 when he obtained a marriage license in Jackson, Tennessee, with Christine Schulte. Hospital records show a son named Joel born 6 months later and a second son named Ned a couple of years later.
Evidence of Wayne's employment remains spotty during this period, but his criminal record begins in 1987 with an arrest in Quitman, Mississippi for transporting illegal cigarettes. A common crime was to hijack a truck carrying cigarettes and then sell the stolen tobacco products at a steep discount without paying any state taxes.
Wayne wasn't implicated in the actual hijacking but was convicted of receiving stolen goods. The dollar amounts were small enough that the Mississippi State Tax Commission left him alone, and he served a month in the county jail.
In the early 1990s, Wayne had three alcohol-related arrests throughout small towns in Mississippi. School records from that period indicate counseling was requested for the children and Child Protective Services conducted several examinations of the Fisher family and home.
On at least one occasion in 1996, Pontotoc police officers were summoned to the Fisher residence to intervene in domestic dispute. Divorce proceedings between Wayne and Christine were finalized in 1997 in Pontotoc.
In the late nineties and early 2000's, Wayne worked for Charvel Construction. Company owner Gary Charvel recalled that Wayne was a hard worker and dedicated employee.
"He never missed a single day of work," Charvel said. "I knew he was really trying to stay straight, cleaned up and all that. I used to take a bit of alcohol myself, so he and I talked about staying clean. He wanted to repair the relationships with his kids."
In the mid 2000's, Wayne began working for EZ Pest Control in Batesville, Mississippi. His supervisors there described him as an uneven employee, sometimes dedicated and hard working, and lazy at other times.
In 2008, Wayne was arrested for petty theft in Batesville. EZ Pest Control allowed him to keep his job, and his co-worker Jason Petty said that Wayne seemed to straighten up after his arrest.
"He had worked out something with his youngest boy, Ned," Petty said. "He seemed happy and settled in. I know it still bothered him that the oldest boy, Joel, wasn't talking to him, but he was glad to have Ned coming for visits and hanging around."
In 2012, Wayne and Ned went into business together and launched Fisher Pest Control in Oxford. It appears that Wayne led a clean life after starting the business with his son. His criminal record is clean during this period, and no witnesses stated that he had any problems with alcohol or other legal problems.
There is no evidence of Wayne maintaining any romantic relationships during this time. "He just seemed to be concentrating on work," said friend Harry Sorrenstam. "Didn't have much to talk about but work. It's a shame that this tragedy happened when it did. He seemed real stable and comfortable in his life."