The man responsible for the 1995 double murder of Mary Lou Barnes and her 12-year-old son Larry Mills Jr. in British Settlement has finally been brought to justice.
Raymond Joseph White was given a life sentence yesterday for their deaths after pleading guilty last Friday to two counts of second-degree murder.
Larry Mills said he and everyone else in the courtroom were shocked with White’s change in plea last Friday but said he is relieved that this will finally bring closure for the deaths of his son and ex-wife 16 years ago.
“Finally we’re going to get justice for them,” said Mills on Monday afternoon, who was readying himself to read his victim impact statement in Moncton provincial court on Tuesday before the judge handed White his sentence. “After tomorrow, they’ll be able to rest in peace.”
White, 65, initially pleaded not guilty to the murder charges last year. So Mills said he isn’t sure why White had a change of heart and decided to admit his guilt after all this time. But he said he feels “like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for. It’s what I’ve wanted to hear him say all these years. And to hear him say that, to accept responsibility for it, that was quite a thing,” said Mills. “It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks.”
Mills said from his understanding, he has heard the accused told his lawyer on Friday morning, after a week of voir-dire testimony, that he was finally ready to face the charges and also wanted to save the victims’ family members from any more suffering in court.
“I think he wanted to get it over and done with. Maybe he thought it was time for him to ‘fess up and deal with it.”
Barnes and Mills Jr. were found dead in their mobile home in British Settlement on Nov. 6, 1995, a double murder that sent shockwaves throughout the small tight-knit community. The autopsy results determined they were asphyxiated.
A massive investigation followed but years passed without anyone ever being charged.
Then, last April, the RCMP announced that a break had come in the case, with new information brought forward to police, and White would be charged in the murders of Barnes and her son.
Police said at that time they had considered White a suspect since the beginning of the investigation but had never had enough evidence to lay charges against him.
All these years of pushing investigators to solve the crime have been tough but Mills said he never once thought about giving up.
“I’ve said all along that this was never about me, this was for Larry and for Mary.”
White won’t be eligible for parole for 15 years but Mills said he had hoped the judge would have handed out a longer term. The range could have been anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
But Mills is still breathing a sigh of relief that White will finally pay for his crimes.
“He’s going to be paid back for this. He’s going to have to live with this now every day of his life.”
Over the years, Mills said it’s been nearly impossible to look at pictures of his son and his ex-wife without feeling the heartache of losing them all over again. But now, after finally receiving closure, he plans to keep their photos nearby so he can look at them often.
“Larry and Mary will never be forgotten, not in my eyes and not by all those who knew and loved them,” said Mills.