It’s hard to believe something as terrible as a homicide can occur. What’s even more terrible is when it occurs close to home. Many famous homicides have occurred right here in Alabama. Some occurred centuries ago, many occurred decades ago and a few have occurred in recent years. While some homicides received more attention than others, all were very horrible events that should’ve never happened. Listed below are 7 well-known homicides that occurred in Alabama and will never be forgotten.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Bobby Frank Cherry - The Racist Bomber
In May 2002, Bobby Frank Cherry was convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which killed four African-American girls. Cherry was a member of United Klans of America. Although he publicly denied his involvement in the bombing, relatives and friends testified that he continuously "bragged" about being part of the crime. His ex-wife claimed he lit the fuse. Cherry died in prison on November 18, 2004 at the age of 74.
2. Andrew Lackey - The Halloween Killer
On Halloween night 2005, in Athens, the home of 80 year-old veteran Charles Newman was broken into by 22 year-old Andrew Lackey. Newman's grandson had told Lackey his grandfather had a vault inside his home that held a lot of cash. Lackey confronted Newman and as Newman called 911, Lackey began firing shots. Newman then grabbed his own gun and shot Lackey. Lackey then stabbed Newman more than 70 times. As Lackey tried driving himself to the hospital, he had to make a stop. He was eventually arrested and received treatment for his wound. When asked how he was shot, he refused to answer. As authorities searched his car, they found his .38 caliber handgun. As they searched Newman's house, they came across blood that matched Lackey's DNA. Lackey was sentenced to death on April 3, 2008, and was later executed in Alabama by lethal injection on July 25, 2013.
3. Audrey Marie Hilley - The Black Widow
Audrey Marie Hilley was an American murderer who was found guilty for poisoning her husband, Frank Hilley, with arsenic. She had also been poisoning her daughter, Carol, with large doses of arsenic after taking out a life insurance policy on her. Hilley was arrested on October 9, 1979 for the attempted murder of her daughter, and on November 9, 1979, she was released on bail and registered at a hotel under the name Emily Stephens. She then escaped and was listed as a fugitive. Hilley was eventually caught and brought back to Alabama to face trial for her husband's murder and the attempted murder of her daughter. She received life in prison for murdering her husband and 20 years for attempting to murder her daughter. In 1983, she began serving her sentence. In 1987, Hilley escaped from the prison after being given a 3-day pass to visit her new husband. She vanished for four days and was found crawling in the woods, soaked from the rain. The temperatures had been in the low 30s. After being taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia, Hilley suffered from a heart attack and died.
4. The Hawes Murders
The Hawes murders occurred in December 1888 and resulted in lots of media attention for Birmingham. Richard Hawes and his wife Emma had a troubled marriage. He was employed at Georgia-Pacific and often left his family alone at home while he worked. Emma was an alcoholic and May, the oldest daughter, was forced to care for her younger sister and brother, Irene and Willie. On December 4, 1888, May's body was found in East Lake. Richard Hawes was the only suspect and as he was taken to jail, he continued to claim his innocence. Emma's bruised and beaten body was soon discovered in the lake at Lake View Park, weighted down with iron. After draining the lake, Irene's body was discovered. The Hawes trial began on April 22, 1889 at Jefferson County Courthouse. Hawes was charged with all three murders, but the trial focused on May's murder. On May 3, 1889, Hawes received the death penalty. While he was in jail, he admitted to a guard that he paid John Wylie to commit the murders and then he decided to intoxicate May and drown her at East Lake Park because he was afraid she'd tell what he did to her mother and younger sister. On February 28, 1890, Hawes was executed. John Wylie was brought to trial for the murders of Emma and Irene, but the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. It's unclear what happened to the younger brother, Willie Hawes.
5. Eric Rudolph - The Abortion Clinic & Olympic Bomber
On January 29, 1998, Eric Rudolph left a deadly FedEx package at the front door of New Woman All Women Clinic, in Birmingham. Robert Sanderson, a Birmingham police officer who worked off-duty at the clinic as a security guard, and nurse Emily Lyons, approached the package. As soon as Sanderson touched it, exploding shrapnel ripped through his body, instantly killing him. Lyons survived, but lost her eyesight and received chronic injuries. Two years prior to this event, Rudolph had attempted to shut down the 1996 Summer Olympics by bombing Atlanta's Centennial Park. The bombing resulted in the death of a spectator and wounded 111 others. After the blast in Birmingham, Rudolph immediately drove to North Carolina where he hid in the backwoods for 5 years. He was captured in 2003, and on August 24, 2005, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole - four consecutive life sentences plus 120 years. Today, Rudolph remains in the ADX Florence Supermax federal prison in Colorado.
6. Amy Bishop - The Crazy Professor
Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, shot and killed three faculty members and wounded three others on February 12, 2010. In March of 2009, Bishop was denied tenure, which meant spring 2010 would be her last semester to be employed by the university. During a faculty meeting, Bishop stood up and began shooting those closest to her with a 9mm handgun - execution style. Bishop didn't have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and she was in total denial after the event. She didn't believe her colleagues were really dead. The day of the shooting, students claimed she seemed perfectly normal. On September 11, 2012, Bishop pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder in order to avoid the death penalty. On September 24, 2012, Bishop was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
7. Betty Wilson - The Doctor's Wife
In May of 1992, Betty Wilson and her twin sister, Peggy Lowe, were arrested and tried for hiring James White to kill Betty's wealthy, well-known husband, Dr. Jack Wilson, an eye surgeon in Huntsville, Alabama. There was no physical evidence that connected either sister to the crime. Only the testimony of James White. Peggy was acquitted, but Betty was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The Wilson's marriage was troubled. Dr. Wilson worked long hours and Betty did her own thing, which mostly consisted of having numerous affairs. Dr. Wilson had planned a trip to Santa Fe to help their marriage, but the night before they were to leave on their trip, Betty found her husband clubbed to death. According to the prosecution, Betty wanted the money, but not her husband. Many witnesses came forward claiming Betty wished her husband was dead. In 2006, Betty was remarried in prison to Bill Campbell - an Army contractor who became highly obsessed with Betty after seeing her story on TV.