Thursday, April 1, 2010

Walter and Iola (Simpson) Haynes

Today marks a very sad day for my family. On this day 33 years ago (2 April 1977), my great grandparent Walter and Iola (Simpson) Haynes were found murdered in their home located six miles south of Jewett, Leon County, Texas. Jadie Haynes (1909-1983), the younger brother of Walter, discovered their bodies. Law enforcement assumed that the murder was a result of a robbery gone bad as the house appeared to be ransacked. However my family has their own theories regarding the murder which included a century old struggle over land and mineral rights and racial hostilities. Despite the motives or theories the case was never solved.

Over the next several years following the incident, my grandmother, Luora Haynes-Patterson (1922-2008), sought the assistance of various organizations both nationally and locally to bring attention to the incident and apprehen the individual(s) responsible. Unfortunately, all the letters and phone calls did not produce any results. Eventually, her persistence and determination turned into frustration and helplessness with the passage of time. I remember talking with my grandmother many years later, after I started researching the family history, about the incident. In recounting this painful incident, she expressed frustration at the lack of assistance and interest the case was given. She felt that since the victims were an old African American couple that lived in a rural community in Texas, it wasn’t a priority.

Prior to researching my family history I knew very little about this incident outside of overhearing my mother telling a family member that my father’s grandparents were killed. Only after 15 years of researching would I feel ready to learn the details about my ancestors' death. So about six months ago, I started conducting my own investigation gathering information on the case. I have sent several inquiries to the Leon County 86th District Court, Sheriff Office, Justice of the Peace, Harris County Medical Examiner, and the Texas Department of Public Safety about the murders. On 7 January 2010, I received a letter and some documents pertaining to the case from the Leon County Sheriff's Office. In addition, I was informed that the case was being examined as a "cold case" due to my inquiry. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement about the possibility of this case being solved after so many years. I immediately told my father of the news, he responded with “You have manifested the persistence and smarts that many of us have had depleted by the passage of time. Congratulations! I am very proud of you.” Although I do not know what the outcome will be of the re-opening of the case, I am hopeful that justice and peace will finally be rendered to my great grandparents Walter and Iola (Simpson) Haynes.

Walter and Iola passed away before I was able to meet them but their love for family and faith in God has been a constant presence in my life.


  1. Dorsey I wish you success in the search for justice.

  2. Dorsey, congratulations on the reopening of this case. I sincerely hope your family gets justice Texas-style.

  3. Thank you both. I sincerely hope something positive will result from this.