Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Atlanta's Lovers Lane Killer-A Southern Zodiac?

There are many baffling murders and crimes committed every day. Many go unsolved. I am always enthralled with the mysteries surrounding the Jack the Ripper and Zodiac murders. They were never solved, and the blogsites, presses, and chat boards light up with theories and ideas about the identity of these killers, as well as their motives.

In Atlanta, in 1977, such a crime spree occurred. The killings were dubbed the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killings, and the murderer was called the Lovers Lane Killer. Like the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, Atlanta's Lovers Lane Killer was never nabbed. It all began on January 16, 1977, when police came to the scene of an accident where LaBrian Lovett crossed an intersection and hit a street sign. Inside the car, Lovett and a woman, 26 year old Veronica Hill, were found naked with gunshot wounds; Lovett's wounds were in the head, stomach, right leg, and left arm. Hill's wounds were in the left leg and her abdomen. Both were taken to the hospital and later died of their wounds. It was determined that the two had been involved in sexual intercourse at nearby Adams Park. Lovett attempted to drive for help, but obviously his injuries overtook him and caused him to loose control of the car. When police arrived at the accident scene, Hill was in the backseat of the car under a coat.

The killer came out again, twenty seven days later, on February 12th. This time he struck at nearby West Manor Park when he attacked a teenage couple who were necking in the park. He came to their car around 2:45 a.m. and fired six rounds in to the vehicle. Luckily, the two were not hurt, but the assailant, who was described as a large African American male, seemed to grow frustrated by the fact that his bullets had not hit their mark. He tried to open the car doors, but they were locked. He left the scene on foot, and the teeangers were spared of the fate suffered by Lovett and Hill earlier in the year. Police reported that it was a .38 caliber gun that was used in both of the shootings.

Police were baffled by these crimes. The motives did not seem to be rape or robbery, as the assailant took nothing from the scene and did not attempt to sexually assault the female victims. On March 12, some twenty eight days after the second attack, Diane Collins, age 20, was with her fiancee in Adams Park. They had seen a movie earlier that evening and were closing out their date there. The couple did not see the gunman as he drew near their vehicle. He shot six rounds in to the passenger side window, killing Collins. Her fiancee was wounded in the head, but survived. After the attack, he managed to drive the car to his home where he phoned for an ambulance.

Police had no answers to the puzzle of the Lovers Lane Killer. They felt that since there was a 27 day difference between the first and second shootings and a 28 day interval between the second and third, that it would be logical to stake out nearby parks 29 days after the third shooting. This would be April 6-8. However, the gunman did not materialize. As the days and weeks passed, the assailant remained quiet. He seemed to have left the scene as quickly as he appeared, and noone ever heard from him again. Two years later in 1979, police admitted that they had no leads or suspects in the case. The mystery of his identity and reason for his crimes has never been solved.

So who was the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killer? Why did he strike? Was he planning his murders in intervals, 27, 28.....? Why did he prey on victims in the park that seemed to be in love? Was he a rejected lover? Did he have some fetish with couples? Perhaps he watched the couples for a while before he struck. Is he still out there? Did he change his killing habits and strike again undetected by the police as the Lovers Lane Killer? Just as interesting as the disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little is the story of the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Signing this Weekend: Moments in McDonough History

There will be a book signing this weekend at Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough at 45 John Frank Ward Boulevard for my local history book Moments in McDonough History. The event will be from 11:00-2:00. There are only a limited number of copies available, so come early.

Because of the number of responses and requests I have received, I plan on trying to do another one in the next few months. I would love for you to make it there if you can. The proceeds from this book will be donated to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. We will also be holding a charity book drive at the same time. Come support this worthy cause and pick up a copy of the book.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mrs. Sammy King and the Haunting Near Eastman, Georgia

E. Randall Floyd, longtime columnist for The Augusta Chronicle, has quite a few titles to his name. He is also the owner and founder of Harbor House Books in Augusta, Georgia. One of the books he released before becoming the owner of Harbor House was More Great Southern Mysteries. This was the follow-up to his book Great Southern Mysteries. Both books are amazing, and I highly recommend that you check them out. I have provided a link to the Amazon site where you can order one. Click on the title of this blog article and it will take you there.

Perhaps the most interesting Georgia story in More Great Southern Mysteries is about Mrs. Sammy King, an older lady who died tragically in a thunder/lightning storm near Eastman, Georgia. For those of you who might not know where Eastman is, it is located in Dodge County not far south of Macon, Georgia. Apparently, Mrs. King had an affintity for enjoying the rainstorms and lighting that are so common to the South, especially in the spring and summer. Mrs. King loved to watch the lightning and listen to the thunder. However, on the night of her death, the thunderstorm and lightning displays made her uncomfortable. According to Floyd, the storm rattled doors and windows, making her quite fearful of the situation. Soon, she decided to close the window for safety. This was a mistake, for when she stood up to walk to the window, a bolt of lightning shot through the house and struck her. She died instantly, and three days later, her charred remains were buried in a cemetery not far from Eastman. But it appears that Mrs. King did not go to her rest upon being put in the grave. This all happened in the 1920s.

Reports have come forth over the past years that describe an older woman, stooped over and clad in darker colors wearing a bonnet, walking around near the old home that once was her residence. Mrs. Betty Kight, who purchased the old King residence in 1962, reports that the apparition is most commonly surrounded by a "soft haze of smoke." Kight first saw the apparition right after she and her husband Bob moved in to the house. One day, she was in the kitchen putting things away when she saw a lady standing in a flower bed outside the home. When she went to investigate, the woman was gone. After about a half dozen more sightings, Kight said that she became very unnerved so she removed the flower bed. That did not work. The ghost started appearing to her children during the daylight hours. All of her children had an experience with the ghost. Her son, Robert, heard singing one day, and so he went to the porch to investigate. Upon arriving there, he found Mrs. King's ghost sitting there singing from a songbook and three children were present with her. Her daughter, Elaine, went to feed the family dogs. With a plate of food in her hands, she opened the door only to find King standing there. She dropped the plate and fled.

The identity of the ghost bewildered the Kights until they reported their findings to neighbors who told them of King's tragic death in the late 1920s. The description of Mrs. King matched the ghost's description, including her bonnet. Kight found out that others have seen the ghost as well. In 1973, the Kight's bought a new house near the old one. They hoped this would relieve them of Mrs. King's hauntings. It did not. A few weeks after moving in, strange things happened in the new house. They noticed that flickering lights could still be seen in the old house. Moaning sounds were heard. Then, King began to make her presence known in the new house. There were opening and closing doors, things being moved, and other things that unnerved the family. The Kights thought about getting an exorcist, but decided against it. Soon, the Kight's accepted Mrs. King's presence. She is now part of the family, and Mrs. Kight feels that Mrs. King grew attached to the family and wants to stay among them. She feels that King did not finish her mission here on earth and is not ready to move on.

So is it possible that there are ghosts and spirits that still walk among us, and is it further possible that some of them can get attached to a living family and move with them? Who knows? But, I would suggest that if Mrs. King is going to stay, she should at least help out with the "electric" bills. I know, corny, but it fits.