BENTON, La. – A camera used to track deer on a north Bossier Parish hunting lease appears to have instead caught a Bossier City man with evidence allegedly linking him to a homicide.
Bossier City business owner John Hardy is captured in still photographs from the trail camera standing next to a burn pile. Clothes that Garrett Wilson was last seen wearing are piled up next to him, sources tell KTBS.
Hardy, who was once a part of that deer lease, is accused of killing, dismembering and disposing of Wilson's body on the property.
Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office Friday morning announced that coroner Dr. John Chandler positively identified the human remains found Feb. 21 as Wilson, who was reported missing from his Bossier City home in late January.
Wilson’s family members were notified.
Hardy, 43, was arrested Saturday – a day after the remains were found – and charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in connection with Wilson’s death. He is held on a $1.3 million bond.
Hardy was driving a 1999 Chevrolet van when he was arrested. Sources tell KTBS Hardy had withdrawn thousands of dollars from bank account and purchased the van from a used car dealer. Seized from inside the van were machetes, knives and other items.
Law enforcement agencies used a license plate reader to track Hardy and that also put him near the deer lease near the Rocky Mount community, according to sources.
Hardy had his first court appearance Monday. He’s being represented by the Bossier Parish Public Defender’s office.
His attorney Randal Fish, who visited with Hardy Monday, said his client denies committing the murder. Fish questioned how Hardy – who accidentally shot himself in the leg last year and still uses a walker – could commit the murder.
“I’m having trouble imagining how this guy, in his ambulatory condition, could dismember a 6-foot, 200-something pound man and drag him” through a remote area, Fish said. “They’re going to have to show me.”
Fish said he suspects there’s much more to the case. Authorities have not said if they have other suspects.
Hardy, who worked as a Bossier City police officer and a Bossier Parish sheriff’s deputy for more than a decade, operated an air-conditioning and heating business. Wilson, who used to own that kind of business, offered to help Hardy while he recuperated from his gunshot wound, Fish said.
Hardy filed a complaint with Bossier City police earlier this month, accusing Wilson of stealing from him. Hardy became suspicious when he started receiving tax forms showing his business had been paid for heating-and-air-conditioning work Hardy didn’t know about, Fish said.
Fish described Hardy, a married father of three, as “shell shocked” by the charges against him.
Hardy made a Facebook post after Wilson was reported missing last month.
“He’s going to be o.k.,” Hardy posted during a conversation with someone about Wilson. Hardy said of Wilson, “He’s been under a lot of stress here lately. I know him really good.”
Hardy was arrested Saturday in Shreveport just days after he was reported missing by family members.
The Bossier City Police Department, which had been leading investigations into Hardy’s and Wilson’s missing persons cases, is no longer involved and the investigation is being headed up by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, spokeswoman Traci Landry said Monday.
Hardy and Wilson lived only a few streets from each other in the same Bossier City neighborhood. On Feb. 5, Hardy filed a theft report with BCPD, alleging $80,000 was stolen from his business. No other details were available in the initial report.
Family members reported Wilson missing on Jan. 26 after not seeing him for three days. They were joined by friends, the sheriff’s office and Cajun Coast Search and Rescue in an exhaustive search of an area along Sligo Road and beyond after Wilson’s cell phone was found on the side of the Flat River bridge.
Hardy was last seen on Feb. 19 at his home. The public was asked to be on the lookout for him the next day.
Wilson was not a saint, according to family members, but he had gone through a lot in the weeks prior to his disappearance with the death of his mother and another family member.
Wilson had two high-profile arrests and convictions that sent him to prison. In 1995, he was sentenced to 15 years as an accessory to murder and armed robbery for his involvement in the shooting death of a man on Interstate 49 in DeSoto Parish.
In 2009, Wilson was convicted and sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his involvement in a scheme to rig bids on millions of dollars’ worth of air-conditioning work at Bossier Parish schools.
Wilson was co-owner of a Bossier City air conditioning company, Air Repair. He, his business partner and three school system maintenance workers were convicted of involvement in a scheme to rig bids, pay and accept bribes, and overcharge for air-conditioning work done on schools throughout the parish.
Wilson was released from federal prison in April 2018.