Suicide or Dixie Mafia Hit? – Death of Norman Ladner

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Photo courtesy of Unsolved Mysteries 

A seventeen-year-old boy spends his days exploring his family’s 122-acre property. Even at a tender age, Norman Ladner was an experienced outdoorsman. He loved hunting, fishing, and exploring the nature around him. Why then was he shot in the head and left in the woods to die? Did he witness one of the Dixie Mafia’s narcotics planes? Was the radio device found hanging in a nearby tree used to signal a drop? Thirty years later, these questions are still unanswered.


On August 21, 1989, Norman Ladner spent the day exploring his family land like he had done almost every day. Ladner was the oldest child and was very responsible. Everyone that remembers him tells of his dependability and his kindness. The Ladner family also owned the local country store. When Norman finished his day of exploring the outdoors, he would usually show up at the store to help his parents close up shop and prepare for the next day. You could set your watch by him. Norman always strolled in around 7 pm. On occasion, he would be closer to 7:30, but never later. On this night, his father began to worry when his son never showed up at the store. Norman Ladner Sr. hurried home to see if his son was in his woodworking shop in the barn. The teenager was nowhere to be found.

Worried, but not frightened, the father gathered a few friends and together they formed a search party. Everyone thought the boy had gotten lost, or maybe injured. No one expected what they would find in those woods on that fateful night. Sr. stumbled upon his son laying beneath a tree. When he reached down and touched his boy, the chill of death shot through him. The distraught father sat with his son in the dark woods until his search party to could return to the house to call the police. 

Pearl County Sheriff Lorance Lumpkin arrived on the scene around 10 pm. There he found Norman laying on his back with his legs curled up underneath him. He was rolled partially to the side a gunshot wound in his temple. From the outset, the authorities began speculating the death was a horrible accident. Perhaps the teenager had jumped down from the tree and fell. Maybe the impact caused his rifle to go off.

A few days later, the coroner came into the family store with two deputies to speak to the family about his results. He told the family that he was 90% sure it was a terrible accident. Strangely, when the official ruling came out a few days later, it was classed as suicide. The family was shocked. They couldn’t believe it. Nothing about it made sense. Norman was a happy child. If it were suicide, why did he have a large gash on the top of his head?

The family went to the sheriff and tried to speak about the case, but the sheriff flat out said they were wrong. It was a suicide, and they were just grieving parents who refused to see the truth. 

Evidence Against The Suicide Theory:

  • Why did the boy have a gash on TOP of his head, and how does that relate to suicide? I wasn’t doing a handstand while trying to hold a rifle and shoot himself in the temple.
  • I was unable to verify this, but it was once reported that the head wound had live maggots while the temple wound held larva. This would lead one to believe that the head wound came first, and the temple wound was secondary.
  • The police never processed the scene as a crime scene. They didn’t find a bullet. The father would find one on his own later.
  • Norman’s gun was never tested or fingerprinted. 
  • No one determined what type of weapon that killed him. They never checked because they believed it was his own gun from the beginning. 
  • Norman’s wallet with $140 was missing. I’m sure he just stole his own money, threw away his wallet, and marched into the woods to shoot himself, right? I don’t think so!

 

The family repeatedly tried to get the sheriff to reopen the case, but he flat out refused. The father, desperate for answers went out into the woods to begin his own investigation. There in the dirt under where his son’s head would have been, they found a bullet with human blood and hair. It seemed to the father that his son was slumped on the ground rolled to the side and someone standing above him shot the boy through the temple. The bullet then traveled through the hair and skull and buried into the dirt. It makes sense. If the boy had somehow pulled the trigger on his own rifle, then the gun would have flown through the air and landed at another location.

I should also mention that in some reports the boy was carrying a shotgun and other stories call it a rifle, so I cannot say what type of gun the boy had. I can tell you that it was most likely a shotgun. Either way, it isn’t easy to shoot oneself in the temple with a shotgun or a rifle. 

Still desperate for answers, the poor father took the bullet to the sheriff and was immediately dismissed. The police claimed that since they didn’t find the bullet, then they couldn’t prove it was the one who killed Norman. The father argued that they didn’t look for a bullet, but it was no use. Since he was getting nowhere with the local sheriff, Norman Sr. took the bullet to the state ballistics lab. He explained how the bullet was too long to fit in his son’s gun and asked the examiner to look over the bullet. The results came back inconclusive siting the same lines as the sheriff almost verbatim. To make matters worse, when the bullet was returned to the family, it was a different one than the bullet they had sent in.

During their frequent trips to the coroner’s office, Norman’s mother was approached by a stranger. He asked if he could discuss her son’s case with her, so of course, the mother agreed to step away and speak with him. When the pair were out of earshot of her husband, the stranger turned and uttered a chilling threat to the poor mother. He told her that she had other children and she should just drop this investigation and raise them because they’d never find Norman’s killer. Frightened, she hurried back to Norman Sr. and told him about the threat. The man was gone before anyone could find him. 

Determined to find the truth, the now somewhat paranoid father makes another trip into the woods to find clues. Three hundred yards from his son’s position, he saw a strange object hanging in a tree. It was a homemade radio device of sorts covered in tape and wires with a small antenna protruding from the top. Of course, the father took it to the sheriff and was dismissed. Norman then turned to a neighbor and told him about the device. The neighbor put him in contact with a retired DEA agent who lived in the area. 

The DEA agent knew what the strange object was immediately and explained these devices transmit signals. The narcotics plans would fly over an area, and when the signal was picked up on their devices, then they would drop their load of drugs. Was this the answer the family had been looking for? Did their poor boy run up on a drug trafficker and a narcotics drop?

To make matters worse, the sheriff would later be charged with dogfighting and other illegal activities. Although some believe he had ties to the local group of Dixie Mafia drug cartel, nothing has been proven. Norman Ladner, Sr. died in 2003, and the sheriff died in 2007. Thirty years have passed, and most of the witnesses are long gone. What evidence the family found is no longer available. Still, questions remain. What happened to Norman Ladner? Was it suicide or murder?


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

Unsolved

Only In Your State

Who killed Norman Ladner? from UnresolvedMysteries

Trace Evidence Podcast Video 

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This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Boys on the Tracks


The Life and Times of Frank Balistrieri: The Last, Most Powerful Godfather of Milwaukee


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A Strange Suicide – The Controversy Surrounding the Autopsy & Death of Lt. Dan Anderson

48387950_263445567660369_1743446475213373440_o.jpg Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A very tidy 80-yr-old trudges out through his grassy lawn in his sock feet with his pants undone, shoots himself in the head, falls backward leaving an abrasion on the back of his head, and then flops over cutting his shin and bruising the top of his toes. If that wasn’t enough to question the suicide ruling then hold on, there’s more. Why did he have gun powder residue on BOTH hands when the hairpin trigger on his service revolver was easily manageable? Why did the blood splatter on his pants look as if he were kneeling? Why were the bullet casings destroyed a few days later WITHOUT the consent of family? Why was the daughter’s name forged on the consent form?


April 18, 2003:
Around 4:30 pm, Lt. Dan Anderson supposedly walked out to his driveway and shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Anderson lived on a busy street, yet there weren’t any witnesses during rush hour traffic. Years later the police somehow drag up two people who say they heard a gunshot sometime in the afternoon, but no one can find these witnesses to re-question them. It seemed they appeared just in time for the FOIA request but disappeared again afterward. Who knows? All of that is merely speculation. I will let you speculate on your own time. Here are the facts of this case as I can prove from interviewing the victim’s family and working through the official autopsy.
Ms. Learn told the police that Dan had sent her to the store to buy cigarettes, and when she returned, she found him in the driveway. The FOIA documents clearly state what she told the police. Learn told the investigator that she parked right behind Dan Anderson’s Cadillac and she confirmed that this car was still there when she moved out of the house later that day after the death of Anderson. I will tell you why that is significant later.
Around midnight Phyllis received a phone call from her father’s attorney stating that Dan Anderson had committed suicide. She fell to the floor, devastated and screamed, “not again.” She packed up and went to Gulfport. When she got there the coroner, Gary Hargrove wouldn’t allow her to see her father’s body. Instead of showing some compassion for the grieving family, he chose to be rude and arrogant. Since she wasn’t getting anywhere with the coroner, Phyllis drove over to her father’s house. She expected to see some evidence of a crime. Instead, the house looked like nothing had happened. There wasn’t any crime scene tape, the driveway was clean, and there weren’t any bloodstains. She walked into the house looking for evidence of violence but found none. It was as if time had stopped, and this was a bad dream.
Dan liked to keep everything neat and tidy, but the house looked as if it had been detailed. There wasn’t a speck of dust in the place. To make matters worse, Learn had lived there for a month, and there wasn’t any evidence of her left. Phyllis said she couldn’t even find a bobby pin. In the FOIA papers MS. Learn said she only lived there four days, but Phyllis had received a phone call about her two weeks before her father’s death, so we know that’s a lie.
As Phyllis slowly took in her surroundings, she noticed something odd. On the nightstand by her father’s bed was a carton of cigarettes with four packs in it. She walked into the den where her father spent a lot of time, and there were two more packs on the end table. One pack was full, and the other was only missing four cigarettes. Why had Learn gone out for cigarettes when there were so many packs laying around the house?
She also noticed that her father’s valuables had been taken. He was a 33rd degree Mason and had beautiful rings, but they were nowhere to be found. All the china and crystal in the house had been thinned out and the remaining pieces spaced out on the shelves so their removal wouldn’t be apparent. The more she looked, the more she noticed things missing. Also, the Cadillac wasn’t in the driveway anymore. Police would later claim that it had been sold months before her father’s death but remember the FOIA papers said that it was IN THE DRIVEWAY on the day of Anderson’s death.
Now let’s move on to the autopsy report. If you aren’t already questioning this case and its suicide ruling the first few lines of the autopsy report will force you to question it.
The autopsy diagnoses dated 4-19-2003 states the following:

  1. One recent gunshot wound of the head entering the right temple, contact, exiting the left temple through the brain (no bullet in the wound)
  2. blood spatter and powder particles on BOTH HANDS

Ok. It also states that his pants were unbuttoned and the zipper down. His socks were covered in dry plant material. It also indicates that his fingernails and toenails were neatly clipped and clean.
Ok. Here goes the rant…
Dan Anderson was a tidy person, and I’ve been told that wouldn’t go outside in his sock feet. If he wanted to, there was a driveway and a sidewalk to walk on. He was particular enough to have nice nails, but he ran outside with his pants undone?
The documents say one hammerless Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver, four bullets, one shell casing, and one leather holster was recovered from the scene. No one recovered the spent bullet. The autopsy said it was a through and through wound, so why wasn’t it recovered in the grass? No ballistics testing was done to prove that this gun was the weapon used to kill Anderson. To make it even worse, the FOIA request shows the police department destroyed the bullets and shell casing four days after Anderson’s death. They sent Phyllis a copy of this release that she supposedly had signed. Phyllis swears she has never seen the paper before and the signature on the bottom of it was not hers.
Who signed Phyllis’ name?
Dan Anderson was 80, but he was a strong man and didn’t suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Why then would he have to use both hands to fire his service revolver? Remember the autopsy said there was gunshot residue and blood spatter on BOTH hands. Anderson showed no signs of suicidal tendencies.
Now here comes the outline of the wounds found on Dan Anderson’s body, excluding the gunshot wound. To reconstruct these wounds, I got help from my son. I drew all the markings on his hands and legs with a washable marker and photographed them. This is what I found.
Left index fingertip anteriorly (meaning the palm side) there was a fresh wound. The left middle finger dorsally (meaning the backside of the hand) over the proximal Phalanx was another wound. Proximal Phalanx means the backside of the hand down between the base of the finger and the first knuckle.
The autopsy also states he had a large wound on the FRONT of his RIGHT shin and on the top of the right big toe. Lastly, it says he had an abrasion on the back of the left-hand side of his head just above the hairline. Dan Anderson had male pattern baldness.
If Lt. Anderson somehow shot himself with both hands and fell BACKWARD, that would account for the wound on the back of his head. If this is the case, then why the scrape down his right shin and his right toe? If he fell FORWARD, he might receive a small abrasion on his knee, but not a large scrape, and he wouldn’t have a wound on the back of his head.
My armchair conclusion is Lt. Anderson’s death should not be ruled suicide. It is highly unlikely that this man would suddenly decide to send off his housekeeper, undo his pants, walk out in his front yard and shoot himself using both hands on his snub-nosed revolver. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t suicidal, and he cared about neatness enough to keep both his fingernails and toenails groomed.
The officials would like to make you believe this is what happened, and to add to the fairytale, he must have shot, then fell forward, dragged himself around the yard scrapping his leg up, then dropped down upon his back hitting the back of his head. If all of that makes sense to you, then I must add all the details of the missing items and the missing Cadillac. If you believe all of that, then I have some oceanfront property in Kansas that I would like to sell to you.
After writing about this case a year ago, Phyllis has been blessed to find a forensic investigator willing to take on her case. This investigator has found many new details about this case, and witnesses have come forward to clear up some missing links. Now, there is some indication that the original autopsy might have been manipulated to bolster the suicide claims. Unfortunately, those details must be held close until after the trial, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be writing more about it when I get the green light.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. Synova strives to cite all the sources used during her case study, but occasionally a source may be missed by mistake. It is not intentional, and no copyright infringement is intended.

More Information On This Case:

BlogTalkRadio

ForeverMissed

Slabbed

Murdered In Mississippi


This week’s Recommended Reading:


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All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online or can be verified by the guest blogger. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Deadly Secrets: The Death of A Father

D4E5C044-3733-42CE-BF29-F9A2DD6C73D9 Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A gambling addiction got him mixed up in something too big to handle, but impossible to escape. He held his tongue after the ambush of Buford Pusser although his car may have been used without his knowledge. He kept their secrets despite them killing his crippled son, and he fought valiantly to keep his daughter safe. Now, it was time to pay the piper and Lt. Dan Anderson knew it. 


If you have been following my Mobster Monday posts, then you have heard the name Lt. Dan Anderson before. His story is interwoven throughout the entire series on the Dixie Mafia going all the way back to Buford Pusser up at the state line. By this point, it has been established that Anderson’s Cadillac was most likely the one used in the ambush of Buford Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd. on August 12, 1967. Strangely, this car disappeared right after the death of Ronnie Anderson, Dan’s son.

For years, Phyllis, Dan’s daughter called the Gulfport police department begging them to look into her brother’s mysterious suicide case. They always refused to re-open the case and within minutes of her call to the police, Dan would call her and tell her to back off. This was the game for over thirty years until the fragile house of cards began to crumble one day in the fall of 2002. The sweet and sassy southern bell always visited her father over the holidays to celebrate his birthday. It was a tradition to go to the local waffle house and this year was no different. A chance encounter during this trip would bring down the house and culminate in the death of Dan Anderson.

During the meal, Phyllis noticed her father’s demeanor change drastically as he looked past her into the booth behind them.

“That Son of a $&%$%” he mumbled.

Startled, Phyllis started to turn and look but received a quiet rebuke from her father. A few minutes later the man strolled past the table glaring at Dan Anderson and his daughter. Dan waited a short while before speaking and then asked his daughter if she knew who the man was that just left the building? Of course, she had no idea.

“That’s the ol’ boy who killed Ronnie.”

Shocked, Phyllis sat watching her father as he visibly withdrew into a shell of a man. After 36 years her father had finally admitted what Phyllis had believed all along. She was shocked to find out that the killer was the roommate her brother had trusted and shared a house with. Dan Anderson had been constantly intimidated by the man for over three decades. What changed? Why would Dan finally drop such a bombshell? Was his son’s killer threatening to kill Phyllis too? We may never know.

After the holidays things began to escalate quickly. Late February or early March Dan’s attorney found a housekeeper to help around the house. He was always a tidy person who hated to have a cluttered space. A woman came to help out, but strangely never really cleaned anything. Aggravated by her, Dan called Phyllis and asked if she would come to throw out the housekeeper. Phyllis happened to have her leg in a cast all the way up to her hip but promised to come as soon as she could get it off. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be soon enough.

A few days later, Phyllis speaks with the housekeeper and tells her to ship out because she would be coming to Mississippi soon. Within days she would travel back to Gulfport, but not to throw out a housekeeper. She would be attending to her father’s final affairs.

April 18, 2003, around midnight Phyllis would receive the call that would tear her heart out. Dan Anderson was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Not again!” was all Phyllis could think.

The official story:

Dan Anderson, 80 had sent the housekeeper out to buy cigarettes because they were out. She found him when she returned dead at the end of the driveway. His pants were undone and he was in his sock feet. The subsequent autopsy was full of strange details and discrepancies and recently more information has come out leading us to wonder if the entire report was fabricated. We will wait until next week to dive into the conspiracy surrounding the death of Dan Anderson and why Phyllis believes her father was a victim of a gangland-style slaying. Stay tuned folks. This ride’s not over yet.


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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. THE SOURCE LINKS ARE PLACED WITHIN THE BODY OF THE TEXT.

This week’s Recommended Documentary:


Moonshine and the Dixie Mafia

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Wrath of the Dixie Mafia


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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Dixie Mafia Exposed – Justice for The Sherry Murders

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Photo courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger May 22, 1991

The battle raged for ten long years, but two warriors refused to abandon the case. Lynn Sherry Sposito and FBI agent Keith Bell kept fighting until justice was served for the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret.


How did this criminal enterprise finally crumble? Although it would take a decade to find justice for the Sherry murders, the foundations began to erode when investigators learned of the Dixie Mafia’s involvement. The first clue came in rather quickly after a neighbor spoke to Lynn Sposito about a strange car in the area on the night of her parent’s murder.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported on the abandoned car believed to be the getaway car. It was found on September 22, 1987, within a couple of miles from the Sherry house. This 1981 Ford Fairmont would lead straight back to the Dixie Mafia and would get the case rolling.

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 9.23.07 AM Photo courtesy of the Greenwood Commonwealth September 24, 1987

Not only was this vehicle found close to the murder scene, but it also matched the description given by the neighbor. Strangely, the dome light had been purposely dismantled and the bulb removed. Whoever was driving this car did not want to be seen when he opened the car door.

The car had been stolen off a lot shortly before the murder. Some reports say it was stolen the day before, but in the book Mississippi Mud, it says the car was stolen on the same day. This is not the only discrepancy reported in the book and newspapers. You must remember that both the newspapers and the book were written as the story broke, so they could only write what was known at the time. It is easier to write a story decades afterward in my opinion.

The license plates on this stolen car were registered to another abandoned vehicle from three years earlier. This stolen Firebird had been abandoned in front of an apartment complex. A known Dixie Mafia member named Lenny Sweatman had stripped the car for parts before it was towed away. That tangled web is what led the investigators to the doorstep of the Dixie Mafia. Sweatman would lead to the club owner, Mike Gillich. Gillich would lead back to Kirksey Nix and his Lonely Hearts scam.

The scam was on the police radar for a while and investigators wondered if the murder was connected, but they had no proof. It would take a couple of snitches, a little legal wrangling, and a lot of patience to bring down the killers.

Bobby Joe Fabian was serving a life sentence in Angola prison when he decided to work with investigators in hopes of shortening his sentence. Fabian was the informant who would officially link the scam to the murders. He told of Kirksey Nix’s involvement and implicated Pete Halat. He also told authorities that known hitman, John Ransom was the triggerman. This would later be proved false, but it was enough to get the ball rolling.

Bill Rhodes, an associate of Ransom turned states evidence and claimed he had been hired to drive the getaway car. He claims to have met with Mike Gillich and Pete Halat several months before the murder. Rhodes was to drive and Ransom was to kill the Sherry’s, but this plan fell through when John Ransom was arrested five months before the death of the Sherrys.

As it turns out, Ransom provided the weapon used to kill the judge and his wife, but was not the triggerman as first alleged. Eventually, investigators persuaded Mike Gillich to turn informant. When he finally told his side of the story he spoke in great detail even telling how the hitman put superglue on his fingers so he wouldn’t leave prints behind in the house. He also gives the name of the actual triggerman. Thomas Leslie Holcomb was offered $20,000 to kill the Sherrys.

Nix and the crew were indicted in May 1991, but Pete Halat somehow escaped the noose. It was difficult for investigators seeing the Mayor’s smiling face on the news knowing he was involved in murder, but knowing they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Finally, their day came when Gillich spilled the beans and Pete Halat was convicted in 1997.

Halat was working with Nix’s former girlfriend Sheri La Sharpe. Together they would stash the money in a safety deposit box, but Halat got greedy and moved the money to a different safety deposit box that only he had access to. Conveniently there was one other name on the box. Judge Vincent Sherry. Sherry had been Halat’s law partner before he left to become a judge. This would give Halat an “out” when Nix eventually noticed the money was missing. Now Halat could blame the innocent judge for the theft and Halat could get off scot-free.

Screenshot 2019-08-07 at 1.27.38 PM

Photo courtesy of the Enterprise-Journal Sept 23, 1997

Although the Sherrys got justice, this story will continue next week with the only man to have inside information on this case. His knowledge would eventually lead to his death and his murder would be labeled suicide. Find out more about Lt. Dan Anderson’s connection to this case and his murder next week.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

Sun Herald Article

WLOX

Caselaw

Djournal.com

newspapers.com


This week’s Recommended Documentary:

714PTozrNpL._SX300_

Biloxi Confidential

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 9.11.14 AM

Do Legends Really Die? The Death of Buford Pusser

Buford_Pusser.jpg


Do legends die, or do they get distorted over time until no truth remains? The legendary lawmen Buford Pusser was killed in a fiery crash on August 21st, 1974. Although everyone in town knew he had a price on his head, the case was closed quickly and the records were sealed by court order. Why?


In Buford Pusser case, the controversy surrounding his life was insane enough, but now his detractors are pouring manufactured facts, rumor mill stories, and manipulated truths into the story trying to defame a rough-and-tumble lawman.

On August 20th, 1974, Buford Pusser and his daughter Dwana went to the McNairy County Fair. Earlier that day, Pusser had announced he had just signed a contract with Bing Crosby Productions to portray himself in the next Walking Tall movie.

Many locals saw him at the fair. He played basketball with some of them and seemed fine around 7 p.m. However, by 10 o’clock that night, some people noticed he began to slur his words a little bit and wondered if he had been drinking. The people at the food stand remember him ordering two BBQ sandwiches and a fish sandwich along with two glasses of water. He was seen carrying around this disposable cup most of the evening, but the only thing he was known to order was water.

Another witness claimed he saw Buford Pusser leave that evening and he tore out of the parking lot like some rowdy teenager. Although Buford Pusser drove his souped-up Corvette at high rates of speed, he was never that reckless. Others notice at the fair that Buford seemed a little off the longer the evening wore on. These witness statements and others lead people to believe that perhaps Buford Pusser had been poisoned.

One investigator who later would be completely discredited claimed to have proof he had been poisoned with a rare South American Indian poison called Cuare. Like with everyone else who went up against the Dixie Mafia, this investigator was publicly discredited and humiliated. Strangely, this investigator would wind up being shot execution-style a short time later. Everyone was quick to point out that it had nothing to do with the Pusser investigation. I think otherwise.

Just after midnight, Dwana and Buford decide to leave the fair. Dwana gets a ride with a friend and leaves shortly before her father. A few miles down the road Buford Pusser caught up with them and passed them at a high rate of speed. It took a few miles to catch up to the Corvette, but by then it was too late.

Some reports say the car was already on fire, but others say it started a few minutes later underneath the hood. The legendary lawmen lay on the ground near his beloved Corvette with a broken neck. Could he really be gone? It didn’t seem possible.

Rumors began immediately after his death. The tie rods had been sawed in two. The brake lines had been cut. He was poisoned. Investigators say Buford Pusser was drunk and driving to fast he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and he was ejected from the car no foul play, but no one in the town believed it several stateliners had contracts out on Buford Pusser and this was a well-known fact.

Some estimated car was traveling close to 100 mph others say it was a 120 mph. Whatever the case, why would he fly past the car he knew his daughter was in like a maniac? Wouldn’t that put his child in danger? It didn’t seem like Buford Pusser was really in his right mind that night.

This was the argument many people claimed proved poison theory. At the time of his death, Buford Pusser’s blood-alcohol level was 1.8. For a giant of a man 6 ft 6 in tall 250 lb that would not have affected him very much.

Rumor had it the brake lines had been cut on his car but if this was the case why were there 545 feet of skid marks left down the highway?

TNADApusser_ks30

photo courtsey of roadsideamerica.com

The manufacturing company investigated the wreckage and said there was no manufacturing default, and it didn’t look like it had been tampered with. Of course, if there had been a default, would they have admitted it? I doubt it. They would have to take responsibility for killing a legend. Besides all of that, if you look at pictures, there isn’t anything left of this vehicle. How could they tell if it had been tampered with? They said the tie rods were broken, but they think they were broken upon impact.

The accident was reconstructed and mapped out using photographs. The low flying machine had crossed into the opposite lane, crossed the grassy ditch, and passed an old gas station. Then it crossed the side road and slammed into an embankment. The big man was ejected from the vehicle and broke his neck upon impact. The legend had just enough strength left to whisper his daughter’s name.

Was Buford Pusser murdered? We may never know. Many have fought and spent thousands of dollars trying to find the truth, but this secret is buried deep in the Tennessee dirt.

What is the purpose of mankind? Humanity’s purpose is to serve others and leave a mark on this world. Whatever your opinion of this great lawman you must agree on one point. He definitely left a mark in history. He inspired thousands of people to stand up for what they believe in. Many people credit their law enforcement careers to his inspiration. What can you say? Have you done anything remarkable with your life? Walk on Buford the Bull.

I cannot possibly fit the entirety of this story in a blog post, so be watching out for a book. I will be writing about this famous lawman, his family, his enemies, and the stories that shaped McNairy County, Tennessee. When reading about this man’s exploits, an old Elvis Presley song came to mind. I would like to quote the lyrics here.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid
Of the dark
At the end of a storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song
Of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed
And blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never
Ever walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never
Ever walk alone

Listen to the song here:

(Wikipedia says The single “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was an adaptation of the Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers standard.)

All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

WMC Action News

This week’s recommended Dixie Mafia Books include:

Walking On: A Daughter’s Journey with Legendary Sheriff Buford Pusser

Ghost Tales of The State Line Mob: Novel Based on Actual Events


TNADApusser_ks30

The Downfall of A Dixie Mafia Kingpin – Kirksey Nix, Jr. Arrested

kirksey nix jr Photo courtesy of The Alexandria Daily Town Talk Newspaper

Kirksey Nix, Jr. survived the Revenge of Buford Pusser, but his freedom would be short-lived. Within a couple of years, a judge’s Cadillac explodes in front of the state capitol, a man dies on Easter morning defending his home against invaders, and one shot to the chest finally brings the Dixie Mafia Kingpin to his knees.


Kirksey McCord Nix, Jr. was the son of a prominent judge in Oklahoma, but that didn’t stop his life of crime. It probably encouraged it. Nix had been on law enforcement radar for a decade, but no charges would stick. After ambushing Sheriff Pusser on New Hope Road, everyone involved felt the wrath of the disfigured lawman. Somehow, Nix would escape, but his freedom wouldn’t last long.

The ambush and killing of Pauline Pusser wasn’t Kirksey’s first slaying. His group of rogues was accused of several home invasions and murders across four different states. It seemed as if nothing could stop this group of murderous thieves. A series of events would lead to Junior’s downfall, and it would start shortly after the death of Pauline Pusser.

The year before the ambush on Pusser, Junior was arrested on felony accounts of burglary and grand larceny. December 29, 1965, Nix and his little gang broke into a boy’s summer camp near Mount Ida, Arkansas. They stole ten rifles, a movie projector, and sporting equipment according to the the Daily Oklahoman’s article on January 22, 1966.

He was in trouble in April of 1966 for passing bad checks and then again in August for using illegal license plates. After paying fines, Nix kicks off a robbery spree that would span several states, and some of these cases would end up in murder. Somehow Junior’s name stays out of the newspapers until the ambush of Sheriff Pusser on August 12, 1967.

Buford Pusser named Kirksey Nix, Jr. and a few others as the shooters who ambushed him on that fateful day in August. After spending hours combing through newspaper archives, I found Junior didn’t make headlines again until 1968 that’s not to say he was laying low.

March 19, 1968, The Daily Oklahoman reported that Kirksey Nix, Jr. pled guilty to some minor charges including reckless driving and the unlawful use of a radio. It seemed Junior had been monitoring the police radio frequencies. Perhaps he was trying to watch out for Pusser. Who knows?

April 30, 1968, Junior is jailed after his gang unsuccessfully tried to rob the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Atlanta, GA. This time his crew consisted of four men and one unnamed woman. During the robbery attempt, the thieves were disturbed by a guard named Robert P. Fouche. He was wounded in the robbery, but after a brief hospital stay, he made a full recovery.

May 21, 1968, Junior’s father, Judge Kirksey Nix, drove a dark-colored 1967 Cadillac to work and parked in front of the State Capitol. An hour after arriving, the car explodes throwing metal shards all over the area. Luckily no one was hurt in the explosion. Authorities quickly conclude the blast was not caused by a bomb, so what made it erupt into a ball of flames? Supposedly there were a couple of oxygen tanks in the trunk of the car that caused the explosion, but no one knows for sure.

The car had been included in a robbery investigation only four months before it’s explosion. Then it was supposedly owned by Junior. The Lawton Constitution reported on May 24, 1968, that the car had Mississippi license plates and it was registered to Doris D’ Angelo.

This is where the theories start to creep in…

If we take the “other” story of the ambush as fact, then we may know precisely where that dark-colored Cadillac came from and what it was used for.

Lt. Dan Anderson had a dark-colored Cadillac that suddenly disappeared after the death of his son. His family wondered why he got rid of it, and no one really got an explanation.

Was this the car used in the ambush on Buford Pusser?

Who is Doris D’ Angelo?

Doris was married to a local club owner named Dewey D’Angelo. This big-time Dixie Mafia member sheltered Junior and ran his prostitution house in Mississippi. Dan Anderson and a man named Hobbs frequented this local hang out often. Without warning, Dan and Hobbs show up in the back room of the club, and a deal is made for the Cadillac. (There’s never any paperwork on this transaction. This information was passed down by the rumor mill.) A short time later it is blown up in front of the Oklahoma State Capital. Why would it be blown up unless it held vital evidence? A simple defunct robbery wouldn’t warrant such drastic action. I contend that it was the car that Ronnie Anderson borrowed from his dad so he could go out with the guys.

Now that the car is gone, what’s next for Junior? Well, more robberies and murder, of course. During the 1969 Mardi Gras celebrations a group of heavily armed men raids a camp of carnival workers near Lake Pontchartrain. 44-year-old carnival worker Margie George was shot and killed during the raid.

Easter morning in 1971, Nix and his gang break into the home of a wealthy grocer named Frank Corso. Corso is awakened by his wife and grabs a gun. He fires upon the thieves, and they retreat, but not before shooting the homeowner. He dies in his wife’s arms, but his bullet had found its mark. Kirksey Nix, Jr. was hit square in the chest, and the bullet lodged in his abdomen. The next day Junior shos up at St. Paul’s hospital in Dallas where he received treatment before being arrested by Dallas authorities. In 1972, Nix and his cohorts would be convicted of the murder of Corso and received life in prison. The king of the Dixie Mafia had fallen, but it wouldn’t be the last time his name made headlines. Come back next week, and you’ll hear how the king’s reign faired behind bars.


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Sources for this article have been linked directly into the text of the article.

Synova’s Youtube Video

This week’s recommended Dixie Mafia Books include:

Timeless Classics: True Crime

Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia


kirksey nix jr

Dixie Mafia Bloodbath: The Revenge of Buford Pusser

Buford_Pusser.jpg

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

They killed his wife and took his face. Now he was out for blood. Someone would have to pay for the death of Pauline Pusser. Hollywood loves the tale of a vigilante seeking justice, but the facts don’t line up with “Walking Tall.”


After the ambush on New Hope Road on August 12, 1967, Sheriff Buford Pusser supposedly named four suspects in the death of his wife, Pauline. When asked again while being wheeled out of surgery, he wearily replied that he didn’t know who shot them. Carl Douglas “Towhead” White was apparently the man who ordered the hit from prison and his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr. was the one to carry out the hit. The names Carmine Raymond Gagliardi, Gary Elbert McDaniel, and George Albert McGann were also mentioned.

Legend says the officer went rogue and got revenge on everyone who killed his wife except for Kirksey Nix.

Hollywood loves to spin tails, and this one is no exception. Keep this in mind if you watch the various versions of “Walking Tall.” There is so much fiction woven into the stories that minimal facts remain. Buford Pusser was a sheriff, and Pauline his wife was killed. All of this happened along the state border of Tennessee and Mississippi. The other characters like Towhead White, Louise Hathcock, and Kirksey Nix, were real outlaws, but other than that, not much else is true.

Let’s Investigate!

According to the book Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Mississippi Mud, the first three ambush suspects all died mysteriously, and they say Nix voluntarily went to prison to avoid Pusser. We will see. First up is Carmine R. Gagliardi. They say his body was found riddled with bullets floating in the Boston Harbor in 1969. I dove into this case, thinking I should be able to find at least one newspaper article on this guy in the harbor. There were none. Absolutely zero. I did find a guy that fit the description of a mafia hitman named CARMEN R. Gagliardi, but he was not found floating in the harbor.

Carmen Gagliardi was in prison for killing Joe Lanza, a local bartender. It is said Gagliardi could be tied to up to fifty different mafia hits in and around Boston. At one time he was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List, but there’s no evidence he was ever on the state border between Tennessee and Mississippi. In January 1975, Gagliardi died in prison of a drug overdose. Nowhere does it say anything about a Gagliardi male being found in the Boston Harbor.

Mr. Gags may have put bodies in the harbor, but it appears this is just another tall tale.

There is a chance that it’s two different guys, but I tend to doubt it. Either way, I find it hard to believe that Sheriff Pusser went 2,400 miles to kill a mob hitman and no one noticed him missing. The big man was too busy raising Cain at the state line to take a road trip, in my opinion.

Gary Elbert McDaniel was found floating in the Sabine River in Texas on February 8, 1969. Some detractors claim the vindictive lawman killed him, I beg to differ. What they fail to mention is the fact that McDaniel was neck-deep in trouble after trying to kill a Mississippi prosecutor. Some of his Dixie Mafia buddies were afraid he was turning state’s evidence. This is most likely the cause of his death, and again other than being loosely tied to the Dixie Mafia and Kirksey Nix there’s no definitive link to Buford Pusser.

Legend tells the tale of how Buford Pusser wrought with grief killed all of his attackers, but again, this one leaves more questions than answers.

The next man on the list was George Albert McGann. He was supposedly shot by Buford Pusser in Lubbock, Texas. McGann was a big-time gambler. He was killed during a poker game on September 30, 1970. Somehow his death was tied to the legend of Buford Pusser anyways.

Now Towhead White is an entirely different story. White and the sheriff were mortal enemies. The entire state line shook with the rumblings of their warfare. Around midnight on April 2, 1969, Towhead pulled up in front of the El-Ray motel. The girl in the front seat with him was the estranged wife of the motel’s owner. Berry Smith, known as Junior, watched them pull into the driveway and stepped outside to meet them.

A verbal altercation ensued followed by gunfire. When the sun rose on April 3, 1969, Carl Douglas “Towhead” White was gone. Shirley Smith had somehow slipped from the passenger side of the car without injury, but White was shot in the forehead. Some say his gun was still in his right hand when the police pulled his body from the car.

Junior was arrested for murder, but the charges were later dropped, and the death ruled as self-defense. According to the bullet’s trajectory, it seemed as if Towhead was actually shot by someone on the roof of the motel. Rumors immediately named the sheriff, but no evidence was ever found. No one put much effort into the investigation. The locals were documented, saying, “Good Riddance.” We may never know who killed Towhead White.

An entirely different story:

Fifty years after the story began, an anonymous witness has come forward claiming to know who was involved in the ambush on New Hope Rd. and it’s not who you think.

Kirksey Nix is believed to have gathered a crew from his friends in Gulfport, Mississippi. The local police department was corrupt at the time and one small time deputy was named Dan Anderson. Several of the Dixie Mafia members played cards at his kitchen table, and it’s believed that his crew came from this core group. Allegedly, this is where they found the dark-colored Cadillac as well.

65304043_2376450739345265_1050826515618463744_o

Photo courtesy of the family – Towhead White on the right, Dan Anderson in the front

When the men asked the impressionable young Ronnie Anderson if he wanted to ride along for a night on the town, he had no idea what was about to go down. He was just glad to be invited. His father, Dan, had gotten in over his head with this group, and now it would cost him dearly. His precious boy would return home, but six weeks later, he would be silenced forever.

The last man on Buford’s list was Kirksey Nix, Jr. Legend says he voluntarily went to prison to avoid the sheriff. Actually, Nix was convicted of murdering Frank Corso in 1972. There is no evidence he voluntarily jumped ship to avoid Buford Pusser.

So who was killed to avenge the blood of Pauline Pusser?

Well…

Maybe Towhead White…maybe not. But Hollywood rarely cares about the facts.


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the copyright on photos. Pictures are displayed under the fair use act. All photos are for informational purposes only. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Further Reading:

Memphis Flyer

Giants of Tennessee

Learning History

View From A Hearse

TN Valley Talks

Buford Pusser Museum

Synova’s Youtube Video

Recommended Books on the Dixie Mafia:

Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Texas by Ron Franscell

1960’s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime that Rocked the Capital By JEsse Sublett

Mississippi Mud by Edward Humes


Buford_Pusser.jpg

Ashton Kutcher Look-Alike Slaughtered By Dixie Mafia

Ashton Kutcher Look-Alike Slaughtered By Dixie Mafia

Photo courtesy of NeimanLab.org

A disabled boy is used as a pawn in a sadistic game and then slaughtered. A suicide is staged. Fifty-one years later, his sister still cries out for justice.


Unlike his handsome Hollywood look-alike, Ronnie Anderson was tragic from the beginning. At the age of three, Polio ravaged his legs, leaving him dependent on leg braces to stand and move. He was a beautiful boy looking for love and acceptance but found it hard to find friends. While they were all outside playing, he would sit in the window and watch. This picture of him crying for fellowship with his peers still haunts his sister five decades later.

At the age of 17, Ronnie decided to move out of his father’s house and share expenses with an older boy. He got his first job working at McDonald’s, and it seemed as if life were about to begin for this lonely polio victim. If he could have only seen into the future a few months, he would have stayed home with his dad.

Unfortunately, the poor guy was in such need of approval; he became an easy target for malicious predators.

A phone rang at Sheriff Buford Pusser’s house in the early hours of August 12, 1967. It was a simple drunk and disorderly call, but his wife Pauline didn’t want him to go alone. Ever since Buford killed Louise Hathcock, he had been receiving threatening calls. One caller claimed, “the sheriff would be hunted down like a dog and shot.” An article in the Daily News would go into more detail about those threats. Unfortunately, by then, the slaughter had already begun.

Buford & Pauline Pusser drove out to the scene expecting a few drunks to be causing a ruckus. What waited for them in the shadows behind the church was more violent, and Pauline Pusser was the target. (This wouldn’t be known until recently when an anonymous witness came forward with information.) The sheriff had stepped over a line when he killed Hathcock and now Towhead White was going to avenge the death of his lover. White was in prison, but he had plenty of associates to handle the job. One such associate was Kirksey Nix, and another happened to be the roommate of Ronnie Anderson.

The original plan was to have “the little crippled boy” (or so he was referenced to by this witness) to knock on the door and lure Pauline out of the house. The crew of killers would take care of the rest. Of course, Ronnie had no way of knowing what would happen. The plan was changed when they saw Pauline get in the car with her husband.

Once the sheriff’s car passed the church, the murder-wagon pulled out behind them. (Some reports claim there were two dark-colored cars, and others claim there was one. I could not find definite proof of two cars although I have a pretty good idea what happened to that dark-green Cadillac a few weeks later.) As the car of thugs caught up to the sheriff, a passenger opened fire upon the Pussers with a .30 caliber automatic rifle.

Pauline was hit in the head and slumped down in the seat next to Buford. He ducked instinctively and slammed on the gas pedal. The car lurched forward, and he struggled to keep it between the ditches. The firing squad followed hard, but a couple of miles down the road it looked like the rugged sheriff had lost his tail. He was wrong. Buford had pulled over to check on his wife when the firing squad emerged out of the darkness and the onslaught of ammunition peppered the police car once again.

A bullet slammed into Buford’s jawbone, causing it to explode, and he slumped over in the seat. The mighty 6′ 6″ former wrestler was down for the count. Silence filled the pre-dawn air around the car. His attackers were gone. As mental clarity returned to the dying man, he mumbled a call for help into the police radio. Blinded by blood and fueled by rage, the sheriff drove himself to the nearby hospital, but it was too late for his beloved Pauline.

Life in McNairy County would never be the same.

Bloodlust was in the air, & revenge was coming.

Buford Pusser was wheeled into the emergency surgery. He would undergo a dozen of them over the next 18 days of torment. His detractors railed on him for missing his wife’s funeral, and they still do to this day. The original newspaper articles claim he was still in the hospital during the funeral. Buford Pusser was a roughneck, backwoods, in your face type of sheriff, but something changed within him during those weeks in the hospital. He went in a controversial lawman, but he came out looking for blood.

Can you blame the man for wanting to avenge the slaughter of his wife?

At first, Buford claimed to know his attackers and even named a few names, but by the end of his recovery, he had changed his story. Was the trama too much for him, or was he going to exact his own revenge outside the confines of the law? Lost in this cruel game of vigilante justice was the murder of the pawn.

Back at home in Gulfport, Mississippi, Ronnie Anderson had gotten an invitation to stay a few days with his older sister Phyllis. He was excited to go and desperately wanted to get away from the terrors of his roommate. He was last seen packing and ironing his clothes. Within an hour, he was dead.

Who killed the sweet Ashton Kutcher look-alike?

Dan Anderson got notified almost immediately after returning home from visiting Ronnie.

“Ronnie tried to kill himself.”

Dan rushed to the hospital only to be met in the waiting room by his ex-wife. (Rose also happened to be the roommate’s aunt.) She explained that Ronnie had died from a gunshot wound to the face. It didn’t make any sense. How could all of this happen within an hour or so?

Story #1:

Ronnie fought with his girlfriend Cathy, so he walked upstairs and shot himself in the face with a .410 shotgun.

Story #2:
Ronnie and his roommate had just returned from buying Ronnie some “deck shoes” when a friend stops by with two guns. The .410 was supposed to be missing a firing pin and was inoperable. Somehow this was a terrible mistake, and Ronnie’s death was from an accidental shooting.
Problems with both theories:

As you know, Ronnie was a polio victim in a bulky leg brace. This disease also left him with one leg quite a bit smaller than the other one. So, buying shoes was a complicated process. First, he had to purchase two separate pairs in different sizes, and then they had to be sent to his doctor to have them fitted with special plates to hook to his braces. There was no way Ronnie could wear so-called “deck shoes” in the first place.

Also, supposedly, Ronnie placed the gun between his feet and pulled the trigger to shoot himself in the face. With his reduced strength in his legs and feet and the brace, this would be impossible. Ronnie couldn’t hold anything between his feet.

Another strange issue:

Why didn’t anyone call the police? Instead, the roommate called his aunt, who washed Ronnie, got rid of the weapon and then took him to the hospital. Of course, the poor boy died in route. He never had a chance.

The night before the funeral, Phyllis was so distraught with grief her doctor prescribed sleeping pills to help her rest, but the nightmares continued. A once beautiful boy stood headless outside her bedroom window banging trying to get in. Phyllis tried desperately to pry open the glass, but it wouldn’t budge. This reoccurring dream would haunt her for years.

During her tormented slumber, a woman calls the house frantically asking to speak with Phyllis. Her husband refuses to wake her and ask to take a message. The woman refuses but finally, she breaks down and says her name is Cathy.

“They killed him. They killed him,” she gasps into the phone just before the line goes dead.

After the funeral, Phyllis took all her theories to law enforcement, but they refused to class the case as anything other than suicide. Her father, Dan Anderson worked as a deputy in the area and knew of the corruption, but found his hands tied. What was he to do? They had killed his son; now, his daughter was in their sights if he dared to fight it. Every time she called into the police department, Phyllis would receive a call from her dad immediately afterward.

“Leave it alone before you get someone else killed,” he demanded on one such call.

At this time no one, including Phyllis, had even heard of the Dixie Mafia. Fifty years later, a witness stepped forward, claiming to know the truth about Ronnie’s death. In reality, he was lured to the docks, beaten to death by a group of guys, and his roommate shot him in the face to stage a suicide.

When will his blood be avenged?

Next week we will dive deeper into Buford Pusser’s revenge as the Dixie Bloodbath continues.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Daily Journal

Wikimapia

Synova’s Youtube Video


This Week’s Recommended Dixie Mafia Book:

Wrath of the Dixie Mafia


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Ashton Kutcher Look-Alike Slaughtered By Dixie Mafia

Mobster Monday – Ambushed

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Photo courtesy of The Tennessean
Nashville, Tennessee
07 Sep 1969, Sun  •  Page 195

The sheriff was a controversial character from the moment he pinned the badge to his shirt. Some people loved him and thought he was a hero and others demonized him. Whatever your view of the legendary man, the following story is fact.

1967:
The Dixie Mafia was known as the State Line Mob and was led by Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was in prison when his lover, Louise Hathcock pulled a gun on Sheriff Pusser and was killed. A grand jury would find the sheriff had acted in self defense and no charges were filed. Upon hearing the news, White called his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr and ordered the hit on Sheriff Pusser and his wife, Pauline, or so we’re told. I will leave the speculation up to you.

August 12, 1967:

Sherriff Pusser received a drunk & disorderly disturbance call at his home in the wee hours before dawn. Pauline Pusser decided to ride along with her husband as she had done on many occasions. This time that decision would be fatal. The pair drove out to New Hope Road to check it out. In reality, the disturbance was a ruse to ambush the young sheriff and his wife.
Pusser passed the New Hope Methodist church looking for the reported disturbance but continued driving when he found the place quiet. A dark colored Cadillac pulled out from behind the church and followed the sheriff with its lights off. As the two cars reached a narrow bridge, the Cadillac flashed on its headlights and came racing up beside the officer’s car. (Some accounts claim there were two cars following the sheriff.)
The Cadillac’s passenger opened fire hitting Pauline in the head. The sheriff ducked and stepped on the gas. The engine roared to life, and the car lurched ahead of the assassins. He sped up the road a couple of miles until he was sure he had lost his tail, and then pulled over to check on Pauline. Moments later the assassins again found their mark and gunshots rang out hitting Sherriff Pusser in the face and jaw blowing it apart. Somehow the sheriff would survive the attack, but Pauline was killed.
At first, Pusser declared he knew precisely who was responsible and named Towhead White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. A few others were involved in the ambush but the proof wouldn’t come out for decades. After 18 days in the hospital and a dozen surgeries to repair his face, Pusser declared he couldn’t tell who had shot him. Perhaps he had a temporary bout of amnesia, or perhaps the sheriff was planning to go rogue. Pauline Pusser was laid to rest while the sheriff was in the hospital. Some of his critics claim that he refused to attend the funeral, but I haven’t seen any official documentation to prove it.

Rumor Mill Alert:

Some claim that Pusser had girlfriends on the side and Pauline was about to divorce him. Again, I have no official proof of that. The man’s main critic claims that he talked to a bunch of the locals who told him this story. So, it must be true, right? Wrong! What kind of…never mind. Of course if you talk to all the locals they are going to repeat the rumor mill. Many locals had family members that were bootleggers, so their view of the authorities was automatically negative. I reached out to the man, but he wouldn’t respond to my interview request.

Did Sheriff Pusser blow off his own face to avoid getting a divorce?

I would never claim the sheriff was a saint, but to claim that he staged the ambush so he could kill his wife is a bit ludicrous. If this was the case, he would have taken a high powered rifle, put it in his non-dominant hand, and shot himself in the face. I don’t know very many people willing to blow their own face off to avoid getting a divorce.

A more reasonable explanation:

Although I am not about to dispute Sheriff Pusser’s marriage troubles, I am a little skeptical when it comes to a man blowing off half of his face. Here’s a theory that makes more sense. Whatever the state of his home life, Buford Pusser had just killed the girlfriend of a very prominent member of the Dixie Mafia. Towhead White was furious and ordered a hit. Now here’s another rumor that might ring true if you think about it.

Some people say that the target was actually Pauline. I cannot explain it in this post, but I will tell you about it in the next one.

The Bloodbath:

Time would witness the deaths of three of the conspirators, but Kirksey Nix would remain on the loose. Allegedly, there were three others involved in the ambush and the purpose was to kill Buford Pusser’s wife. Those conspirators planned to send the sheriff off on a wild goose chase, then return to the house. The plan was to lure Pauline out with a innocent crippled boy. The other men would kill her in revenge of Louis Hathcock.

The best laid plans go awry and they see Pauline in the car with Buford as they pass by. This would lead to the ambush on New Hope Rd. The crippled boy was along for the ride of his life whether he wanted to go or not. This night would lead to much blood shed and the death of a boy. While the newspapers would go on to hail Sheriff Pusser as a hero and Hollywood would make movies about him, the death of the boy gets lost in the shuffle.

Next week we will dive into the aftermath of the ambush and lay out the cover ups that would condemn the death of Ronnie Anderson to the cold case file.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all-inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Jackson Sun 

Youtube Video of Ambush Site

Synova’s Youtube Video

Dixie Mafia Book Recommendation:

The State Line Mob: A True Story of Murder and Intrigue


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice e-book free.

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The State Line Mob vs. Sheriff Buford Pusser

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

He was a different breed of law enforcement, but he was perfectly matched to battle it out with the State Line Mo. Beyond the myth & legend, did Buford Pusser’s ambition to wipe out the mob lead to his wife’s murder?


This week we delve into the facts and fiction behind the legendary sheriff Buford Pusser. His life was immortalized in the series of “Walking Tall” movies, but how much of those scripts were accurate?

Can one man take on the Dixie Mafia and win?

Whatever your opinion of the man, Buford Pusser had the moxie to try. He refused to take bribes like he’d seen other law enforcement officials do and tried to clean up the state line.

It was a different world back then.

Law enforcement officials weren’t tied down with as many rules and regulations back then. Pusser’s “strong arm” tactics wouldn’t be allowed in this politically correct world. If you didn’t break the law then he was a hero. If you did, he was an evil thug.

Back in the 1960’s & 1970’s the phrase “strong arm of the law” meant something entirely different then it does now, but B.P. was still criticized back in the day. The High Point Enterprise ran an article on April 7, 1974 titled, “Buford Pusser: Hero or Thug?” The title explains a lot. Even back then some people questions the lawman’s methods.

The six years he was sheriff were filled with blood and violence. He patrolled the state line waging war on prostitution, illegal gambling & moonshine. Pusser was 6’6″ giant of a man weighing in at 250 lbs. During his wrestling days he was known as “Buford the Bull.”

Born on December 12, 1937 in Finger, Tennessee the Bull would rage through life until his death in 1974. He was only 36. Some claim he was a hero who died to soon and others wonder if he left more pain in his wake than necessary. Was he a hero or a thug? We may never know. People still argue over this man’s exploits four decades after his death.

In 1964, Buford Pusser became the Sheriff of McNairy County Tennessee and the war began. Shortly after receiving his new title, the State Line Mob offered Pusser $1,000/month to look the other way, but the big man refused. During his tenure, the sheriff jailed 7,500 criminals and dismantled 85 moonshine stills. Legend says he did this all in the year of 1965, but I was unable to verify that. It is more likely that he did that in the span of six years. Who knows? Maybe someone will come forward after reading this article and show me documentation to prove otherwise.

It was a known fact that B.P. didn’t carry a weapon into his battles with criminals. Instead, he depended on his brawn to take down the bad guys. This would all change in November 1965 when he was attacked by a group of hired assassins. Pusser was left to die with seven stab wounds. Perhaps it was grit and determination, or maybe it was divine guidance, but either way Pusser recovered and jumped right back into the fight, only this time he jumped in with a .41 magnum Smith & Wesson.

February 2, 1966, Sheriff Pusser was called to the Shamrock Hotel. Someone had filed another complaint against the owner Louise Hathcock. A couple unsuspecting visitors were robbed while staying at the infamous hotel. It was a familiar story. Hathcock currently had two warrants out against her for theft and possession of an illegal substance (moonshine.)

The sheriff took off towards the hotel with his gun in the glove box, but his deputy suggested he stop and strap on his gun. That decision would either save his life or allow him to commit murder. It all depends on which side of the fence you sit on.

During the visit a drunken Louise pulled her .38 and shot at Buford. In her delirious state, she missed giving B.P. enough time to fire off a few rounds in return. Of course this killing was justifiable in the eyes of the grand jury and the sheriff faced no charges in the ordeal. Pusser’s critics, however, claim Louise Hathcock was shot in the back therefore constituting murder. I have not been able to find an official autopsy to confirm this theory. I have, however, found many of the original reports on the incident, all of which point to self defense.

Whatever happened in that room, it triggered a series of blood letting that would make history. When the dust finally settled seven years later, the great lawman an most of the State Line Mob were dead. Two big names would survive and become the next generation of the Dixie Mafia.

Next week we will get into the ambush of Sheriff Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd and the blood bath that ensued. Stay tune folks this tale is far from over.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

The Jackson Sun

The Statesville Record

Weekly Wire.co

Synova’s Youtube Video


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.


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