Mary Lucile Chadwick, born in Clarke County, Georgia on February 16, 1933, was the daughter of Billy Golden Chadwick and Sallie Katie Patridge. Tragedy found its way into her life on at least two different occasions.
Lucile married James Clinton Bray Jr. and they had 10 children together. On August 29, 1965, James, a deputy sheriff in Lexington, Georgia for six years, was shot multiple times by Leonard Williams Jr. following an argument. James’ body was found in a ditch on Georgia Highway 22. After the shooting, Leonard apparently drove to his father’s home and it was reported his father convinced him to turn himself in. A witness who saw Leonard’s car speeding away described the car to the sheriff which led to his arrest. When stopped by state troopers, Leonard told them they were going to Athens so he could turn himself in. Leonard claimed that James had pulled him over, accused him of flirting with his wife Lucile at a dance, and then attacked and threatened him which led to the shooting. Leonard was originally charged with murder but that was reduced to voluntary manslaughter after it was determined that James had fired his gun twice that night, hitting Leonard’s car once. The case went before a grand jury but there was no indictment after Leonard told them he shot James in self-defense. James was 57 years old and Lucile 52 years old at the time of his death.
Lucile later married Jerry Nowell (or Noel) Hardigree, son of Homer Von Hardigree and Nora Lee Thompson, date unknown. Lucile and Jerry lived in Whitehall, Clarke County, Georgia for a while but at some point, moved to an apartment on Pavilion Street in Atlanta which they shared with Fred Dumas. On November 2, 1974, Lucile, Jerry, and Fred were all three stabbed to death with a butcher knife in their apartment by Edward Joseph Kane, a mental patient who had escaped from the Oregon State Hospital earlier that year. A woman named Nellie Jean Kane, described in an Atlanta Constitution article as Edward’s wife, and a man named Billy Walker who lived in the same building, discovered the bodies, along with an unconscious Edward Kane who still had the knife in his hand. The Atlanta Constitution also reported that all individuals named here were living together in the apartment. Edward Kane would later deny that Nellie was his wife.
|The murders were a headline story for The Atlanta Constitution on November 4, 1974.|
Note: the photo was not part of this story.
|Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia|
|Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon|
In the mid-2000s, I worked with an extended Lankford family member to research our collective lines and she was the one that discovered the news of Lucile’s murder. Sometime later, she was contacted by another extended Lankford family member (Francis) who had an additional piece of information for the tragic events that took place. As stated previously, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Nellie Jean Kane was one of the persons who found the bodies after the murders. Francis shared that Nellie was Lucile’s daughter. Nellie had been in an out-of-state mental institution where she met Edward Kane, and they came to Atlanta together. I wondered how it came to be that Edward was staying in the apartment with Lucile and her husband Jerry, but it made sense to me now that I know Nellie was Lucile’s daughter.
I also wondered whether Nellie was actually in Oregon so I searched for her on Ancestry.com and found a city directory record for Salem, Oregon showing that Nellie was living with her husband, Ronald Matlock, in 1971. Nellie and Ronald divorced in Marion, Oregon on October 4, 1971. Francis mentioned that Nellie died on May 23, 1986 and that her name was Nellie J. Matlock at the time of her death.
I also found two notations of marriage applications in the newspapers for Nellie. The first one appeared in the Capital Journal in Salem on March 19, 1974:
Paul Tan Gibbs, 53, Oregon State Hospital, doctor, and Nellie Jean Bray, 34, Oregon State Hospital, at home.The second one appeared in Capital Journal on May 14, 1974:
Joseph Carter, 48, Salem, truck driver, and Nellie Jean Bray, 34, Salem, at home.Nellie Jean Bray was Lucile’s sister’s maiden name. Nellie was born in 1940 so the age would have been correct. Records seemed to corroborate Nellie’s name and age, as well as place her in Oregon at the same time Edward left for Atlanta.
Francis finally stated that nobody knew the reason that Edward killed Lucile, Jerry, and Fred but a 1976 Atlanta Constitution news article noted that “The prosecutor said the killings evolved from an argument over the rent and Kane had been drinking at the time.”
Lucile, survived by seven daughters, three sons, and 24 grandchildren, was buried at Crawford Cemetery with her first husband. She was 61 years old at the time of her death.
I can’t speak for the death of Lucile’s first husband James, but for the deaths of Lucile, Jerry, and Fred, mental illness played a key role. If you know of someone suffering from mental illness, talk to them about it. Help them to help themselves. Help them seek out mental health services. Perhaps something as tragic as what happened to Lucile and the others could be avoided.
Lucile would be my 3rd cousin 2x removed with our nearest common relatives being Charles L. Lankford and Miss Moore. She is a descendant of Curtis Caldwell Lankford, brother of my 3rd great grandfather, James Meriweather Lankford.
- “Murder Charge Reduced in Oglethorpe Slaying,” Athens Banner-Herald, September 18, 1965.
- “No-Bill Returned in Oglethorpe Death,” The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, September 28, 1965.
- “Oglethorpe Deputy Found Slain in Ditch,” The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, August 30, 1965.
- “Senseless Deaths,” Cases in Point, Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon, May 26, 1991.
- “Senseless Deaths,” Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon, May 26, 1991.
- Henderson, Barry, “Oregon Wouldn’t Take Atlanta Slay Suspect,” The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, November 6, 1974.
- Hendricks, Gary, “Give Me the Electric Chair. It Won’t Hurt Me a Damn Bit,” The Atlanta Constitution, March 2, 1976.
- Marion County, News of Record, Marriage Applications, The Capital Journal, Salem, Oregon, March 19, 1974.
- Marion County, News of Record, Marriage Applications, The Capital Journal, Salem, Oregon, May 14, 1974.
- Obituary, Mrs. Mary Hardigree, Athens Banner Herald, November 4, 1974.
- Obituary, Mrs. Sallie Pledger, Athens Banner Herald, August 2, 1972.
- Oregon, Divorce Records, 1961–1985.
- Salem, Oregon, City Directory, 1971.
- Willis, Ken and Gary Hendricks, “Escapee Charged. Knife Rampage Leaves 3 Dead,” The Atlanta Constitution, November 4, 1974.
- Mental Health Cliparts #2635578, Clipart Library; http://clipart-library.com/clipart/1227900.htm.
- Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, Josh Partee [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OSH-JoshPartee-8840-west-facade.jpg.
- Grady Memorial Hospital, unclepockets [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grady_Hospital.jpg.