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Picayune law office burns overnight. Here’s how it’s connected to a missing persons case.

Picayune father urges his son to turn himself in after his law office burns down
Updated: Jul. 14, 2020 at 9:30 AM CDT
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PICAYUNE, Miss. (WLOX) - A law office belonging to the father of a man wanted in connection to a missing person’s case has burned down.

The practice of attorney James Gray, located on West Canal Street, caught fire around 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to neighbors who live near the office.

Gray is the father of Dustin Gray, a man wanted in connection to the disappearance of Willie Jones, a 28-year-old man who has not been seen since July 6.

Willie Ray Q. Jones was last seen on July 6, 2020, around 3 a.m. in the Ponderosa area of...
Willie Ray Q. Jones was last seen on July 6, 2020, around 3 a.m. in the Ponderosa area of Picayune.(Hattiesburg Police Department)

It’s unknown at this time how the fire started or if it has any connection to the investigation into Jones’ disappearance. A fire marshal was on scene early Tuesday morning investigating the fire.

Picayune Assistant Police Chief Dustin Moeller tells WLOX the fire was certainly a setback in the case, but he says they’re exhausting all resources to get answers for Jones’ family. He says the Jones family has been very cooperative in helping them try to figure this out. He also reiterated that numerous law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search.

James Gray told WLOX that he hasn’t talked to his son and probably won’t. However, he is encouraging Dustin to turn himself in, adding that Jones was like family to him and he hopes he is found soon.

“I just want everybody to know that Willie Jones is a friend,” said James Gray. “Our families have been friends for years, and I know they had nothing to do with this. There was a lot of stuff on social media last week that was inaccurate. My son was involved with Willie Jones in something. My son has left. I don’t know where he is. I haven’t spoken to him for two weeks before Willie became missing. He hasn’t called me. He’s not going to call me because he knows I’ll tell him to come into the police and tell them the truth, whatever that truth is.”

Dustin and his wife Erica Gray were named as persons of interest in the investigation on Sunday. According to police, Dustin and Erica also have outstanding felony warrants for possession of a stolen firearm, in addition to being wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Jones.

Dustin and Erica Gray
Dustin and Erica Gray(Picayune Police Department)

“I’m praying for the Jones family and I’m praying for my son would do the right thing,” said James Gray.

Picayune Police said they have worked around the clock since Jones was reported missing, logging evidence and having it tested. Investigators are also going through phone records and social media accounts of Jones, as well as Dustin and Erica Gray.

“While the phone records and social media accounts of the victim and any and all persons of interest have been requested, we have and will continue to investigate this case fully and follow every possible lead,” said Assistant Police Chief Dustin Moeller. “The family deserves answers and we are working to provide them.”

Jones was last seen in the Ponderosa area on July 6 wearing a black shirt and gray and white shorts. Jones is a 28-year-old black man who stands 5′7, and is about 216 pounds, with brown eyes and short black hair. He usually wears two diamond earrings and a diamond ring on his pinky finger.

If you have any information regarding this case, the Picayune Police Department urges you to contact them at 601-798-7411, 601-337-6544 or 601-916-9411. Anonymous tips can also be made to Pearl River County Crime Stoppers online or by phone at 601-799-CLUE.

Crime Stoppers said they “will pay the same reward as listed for other counties, ‘up to $2500.’”

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