Friends and colleagues of slain George County Sheriff Garry Welford peered through a courthouse window Thursday as law enforcement officers escorted a man and woman accused in the killing of their beloved sheriff to a nearby courthouse to face formal charges of capital murder.

Those who admired and loved the two-term sheriff wanted to get a first glance at the pair accused of killing the man they say had worked tirelessly to restore the community’s trust in a Sheriff’s Department once marred by corruption and scandal.

“He was the one who was able to restore the trust in George County of the Sheriff’s Department,” said Circuit Clerk Chad Welford. “This is a terrible loss for George County. We not only lost a public servant, but also a friend.”

Law enforcement officers drove the suspects — Brandy Nicole Williams, 18, and Christopher Lee Baxter, 24 — in separate cars from Hattiesburg to the George County Justice Court building on Thursday, where they were charged with one count each of capital murder.

Both suspects were barefoot and wearing shorts and T-shirts, with obvious cuts and scratches to their legs and faces, injuries they likely sustained while fleeing overnight through a thick wooded area near the George and Greene county lines.

When reporters asked the suspects if they realized they’d run over Sheriff Welford, only Baxter responded, saying “no.”

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