Thursday, August 22, 2019

So many tragedies

The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “tragedy.”

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
In 1973, Edward Kane was acquitted of the stabbing death of his former wife Nancy and confined to a hospital. Originally placed in the hospital’s maximum-security section, it was later determined he was not considered dangerous so was moved to a less secure location at the hospital. He was able to come and go as he pleased. Edward left the hospital in June and went to California for a short time, and then went back to Oregon before going to Atlanta. In September, Edward attempted to turn himself in somewhere in the Atlanta area, although it’s not clear where that took place in the news articles I read. But it was at that time that someone from the Fulton County Emergency Mental Health Services contacted a psychiatrist at Grady Memorial Hospital and shared that Edward told them “he was an escapee from Oregon and wished to be returned.” Edward was admitted to Grady and attempts were made to have him transferred to Central State Hospital, a facility in Milledgeville, Georgia dedicated to treating mental illness. Unfortunately, a court order was needed to do that, something they didn’t have. The psychiatrist at Grady attempted to have Edward sent back to Oregon, but again, since the state hadn’t issued a warrant for his escape at that time, they “reportedly refused to transport him back” to Oregon. And because he hadn’t committed any crimes or had any outstanding warrants against him, they could only hold him but so long in Atlanta due to state mental health laws. Attempts were made between Fulton County in Georgia and Marion County in Oregon to gain the proper authority to have Edward transported back to Oregon, but to no avail. Edward was released from the psychiatric unit at Grady. Meanwhile, Edward had written his children and told them he was staying at the apartment on Pavilion Street. It was through this letter that the police in Oregon found out where he was. They sent a wire to the Atlanta police informing them that Edward had escaped from the hospital, let them know a warrant had been issued, and provided the Pavilion Street address. But by the time the appropriate unit was notified, it was too late.

Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon
Edward was charged with the murder of Lucile, Jerry, and Fred the following Monday. He appeared confused at his court hearing and claimed to not know what had happened. Edward was held at the Atlanta City jail. While there, he made an unsuccessful attempt to hang himself and was eventually moved to the Fulton County jail. In 1976, Edward plead guilty to three counts of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 54 years in prison.

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 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;
  • Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, Josh Partee [CC BY-SA 2.5 (]; 
  • Grady Memorial Hospital, unclepockets [CC BY 2.0 (]; 


  1. Hello, my name is marcia. Bonnie kane is my mother and his Edward kane was my grandfather. It was my grandmother that he brutally stabbed to death. He was drunk and angry at her because she said she was leaving him. My mom and her siblings where trying to stop him in the front yard as he was beating her up so my mom went in the house grabbed a knife and stabbed him in the back. He just grabbed it and stabbed my gma over 20 times as she was begging him to "stop your killing me joe" then ask he walked away down the street my mother sent the others down the road to get help while she held gma in her arms until she took her Last breath.
    That is what my mother had to remember as far as I can remember she had nightmares fighting in her sleep and wake up from that day replaying ๐Ÿ˜” she was very strong but she was holding on to the pain and it was after my brother passed in a car accident that she lost her self to depression worse than ever and alchohol and in 2013 she took her life. That man hurt a lot of people and I am sorry for what he has done. I never could imagine living with that memory and pain of losing her mother so brutally. Her baby sister was an infant at the time so she didnt remember her mother when he got out but she wanted to know him so bad she let him come stay with her when he wA released in 94. She begged my mom to forgive him and my mother hated him so much but for some reason she decided to see him one last time and try to i guess. So he came to see her and that's when we met him. The first and last time. That Nellie lady with him. He must have met her in the crazy hospital and she stayed with him through his prison sentence.which blew my mind when I read this blog because she seemed odd to me but knowing that she was there when he killed those poor people and that means he had just murdered his wife too if they met before Atlanta. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿคฌ you have to be crazy and If my mother knew that she never would have saw him. I couldn't believe what you said about her using her sister's identity, makes me wonder, I hope she isnt the one who killed her sister. Anywone who stayed with someone knowing he murdered his wife and friends probably would do the same. My mom never saw or spoke to him again until he was on his death bead and hospital called her as they last living relative.. told them to pull the plug and that's the last I heard of him . Until the last free years before she passed away. She found out that his name that he used her whole life edward Joseph kane, was not his original identity. Its Charles Flynn ๐Ÿ˜ฎ then she has no idea why he changed it or when but she did remember her mom used to have an old newspaper article of somebody.. she never knew who it was.. she never did look into it cuz it was not long before she died ๐Ÿ˜” but I have it now in storage and now I want to research what it is because I cant find anything online. I don't know how to even but I know he changed it for a reason and when you said she stole her sister's I lost my mind because he is probably the one who convinced her to do that. Oh and my aunt who they released him with. Died in her sleep shortly after he got out.. vomited in her sleep ๐Ÿคจ then he and I hate to think he Nellie had some to do with it... anyways thanks for the article I never heard about the victims before and give my apologies and send my prayers. Thank you

    1. Marcia, thank you for sharing this information. I'm sorry that your family had to go through all of this. I'll be saying a prayer for everyone involved tonight.