Archive for the ‘Billy Gafnea’ Category

>Western Tribune Column from last week

July 2, 2007

>I realized I never posted last week’s Western Tribune column, so here it is. And this weeks is regarding our organization in Bessemer, so look forward to that. Hopefully I will remember to post it by Wednesday.

Here’s the column:

Last week this newspaper printed a story about the death of young Billy Gafnea of Brighton in 1956, and his sister’s efforts to find closure. Debra believes, and evidence seems to back her up, that her brother was murdered, and the crime covered up.

Last week the U. S. House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to spend $100 million to probe into Civil Right’s era cold cases from the 1950’s and 1960’s in an effort to solve more of the horrible crimes that took place during that time. This legislation is expected to become law when it reaches the president’s desk.

Critics claim that this is money wasted. While not being overtly racist in their explanation, they say that the money could be better spent, and that since many of the witnesses and perpetrators of these crimes are aged or dead, the chances are that not many of the crimes will be solved. In addition, they concede that if people come forward with new evidence a case should be prosecuted, but officials should not be looking for new evidence, when past investigations have not been successful.

However, the facts are that many if not most of the past investigations were half hearted and lacking in sincerity because many prosecutors and law enforcement officers at the time either turned a blind eye or even participated in the crimes and cover-ups. Crimes are solved by competent law enforcement officials procuring evidence, either voluntarily from witnesses or as a result of detective work, so looking for new evidence is not out of the ordinary.

We learned just recently that James Ford Seale was recently convicted for the 1964 slayings of two black teenagers in Mississippi. This case was opened because of the efforts of one man, Thomas Moore, the brother of one of the teens, who found a prosecutor willing to listen. This is proof that seeking justice is worthwhile, and can be successful.

Any murder, in which the killer may still be living, is worth investigating. Modern forensics in combination with witnesses desiring to lessen the burdens they have carried for decades makes for the possibility of justice being served.

With civil rights cases in which race played a role, potential justice has the blessing of additional federal dollars to improve the chances of success.

In Billy Gafnea’s case, only increased public interest, and investigators willing to put resources into finding answers will lead to justice being served.

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Western Tribune Column from last week

July 2, 2007

I realized I never posted last week’s Western Tribune column, so here it is. And this weeks is regarding our organization in Bessemer, so look forward to that. Hopefully I will remember to post it by Wednesday.

Here’s the column:

Last week this newspaper printed a story about the death of young Billy Gafnea of Brighton in 1956, and his sister’s efforts to find closure. Debra believes, and evidence seems to back her up, that her brother was murdered, and the crime covered up.

Last week the U. S. House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to spend $100 million to probe into Civil Right’s era cold cases from the 1950’s and 1960’s in an effort to solve more of the horrible crimes that took place during that time. This legislation is expected to become law when it reaches the president’s desk.

Critics claim that this is money wasted. While not being overtly racist in their explanation, they say that the money could be better spent, and that since many of the witnesses and perpetrators of these crimes are aged or dead, the chances are that not many of the crimes will be solved. In addition, they concede that if people come forward with new evidence a case should be prosecuted, but officials should not be looking for new evidence, when past investigations have not been successful.

However, the facts are that many if not most of the past investigations were half hearted and lacking in sincerity because many prosecutors and law enforcement officers at the time either turned a blind eye or even participated in the crimes and cover-ups. Crimes are solved by competent law enforcement officials procuring evidence, either voluntarily from witnesses or as a result of detective work, so looking for new evidence is not out of the ordinary.

We learned just recently that James Ford Seale was recently convicted for the 1964 slayings of two black teenagers in Mississippi. This case was opened because of the efforts of one man, Thomas Moore, the brother of one of the teens, who found a prosecutor willing to listen. This is proof that seeking justice is worthwhile, and can be successful.

Any murder, in which the killer may still be living, is worth investigating. Modern forensics in combination with witnesses desiring to lessen the burdens they have carried for decades makes for the possibility of justice being served.

With civil rights cases in which race played a role, potential justice has the blessing of additional federal dollars to improve the chances of success.

In Billy Gafnea’s case, only increased public interest, and investigators willing to put resources into finding answers will lead to justice being served.

>Bessemer Rallies and Wal-Mart Backslides

June 25, 2007

>I am going to continue my advocacy for safer streets and less guns in Bessemer, especially since a local television station declared Dartmouth Avenue the most dangerous street in the state. I have written about Josh Hughes (scroll down to the second half of this post, where you see Western Tribune in bold) and about the other recent killings on my street on both this blog and in The Western Tribune. On Saturday a rally against violence was held on Dartmouth near where the killings took place.

On Sunday ABC 33/40 was on my block preparing to cover a story of another rally, occurring today, Monday, at 7:00 pm, at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church on Dartmouth Avenue. Pastor Moulton told me that Mayor Ed May and Councilmember Earl Cochran are expected to be at this rally and that 33/40 will be back to cover it. I am hoping that the police department will be present to explain what they are doing (?) to curb violence.

If you live on or near Dartmouth, or anywhere in Bessemer for that matter, you are encouraged to attend this rally. Safety in Bessemer affects us all. Crime affects our city morale, our property values, our willingness to enjoy being outdoors, and other’s opinions of us. Hope to see you there.

My willingness to spend money at Wal-Mart is on a rollercoaster. There are so many reasons not to, but when they offered support to GLBT employees and joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce a year ago, I became more likely to support them. Now, folding to pressure from conservative “Christian” groups they are rescinding their support.

I thought the company was moving in the right direction,” one Wal-Mart employee wrote in an e-mail to Fortune. “But last week changed everything. Pulling funding from GLBT organizations is a slap in the face to gay employees, and it sends a very clear message. Diversity within Wal-Mart is only partially inclusive.” Article

To me it is one thing if a company has never addressed the issue of gay rights, but when one signals acceptance and then reverses their policy, I agree, it is a slap in the face. I’m not saying I will not ever shop there; in fact there is something I have already planned to go and get. After all, they are still working to educate employees on GLBT issues, and support their gay personnel. But I just might increase my likelihood of Target shopping, and it won’t be long until Target and Publix are both in Bessemer according to the sign visible from I-459 near Eastern Valley Road.

And, if you have not read about Billy Gafnea’s death in 1956, click here. This case needs to be reopened, if nothing else, exhume the body and determine the real cause of death!

Bessemer Rallies and Wal-Mart Backslides

June 25, 2007

I am going to continue my advocacy for safer streets and less guns in Bessemer, especially since a local television station declared Dartmouth Avenue the most dangerous street in the state. I have written about Josh Hughes (scroll down to the second half of this post, where you see Western Tribune in bold) and about the other recent killings on my street on both this blog and in The Western Tribune. On Saturday a rally against violence was held on Dartmouth near where the killings took place.

On Sunday ABC 33/40 was on my block preparing to cover a story of another rally, occurring today, Monday, at 7:00 pm, at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church on Dartmouth Avenue. Pastor Moulton told me that Mayor Ed May and Councilmember Earl Cochran are expected to be at this rally and that 33/40 will be back to cover it. I am hoping that the police department will be present to explain what they are doing (?) to curb violence.

If you live on or near Dartmouth, or anywhere in Bessemer for that matter, you are encouraged to attend this rally. Safety in Bessemer affects us all. Crime affects our city morale, our property values, our willingness to enjoy being outdoors, and other’s opinions of us. Hope to see you there.

My willingness to spend money at Wal-Mart is on a rollercoaster. There are so many reasons not to, but when they offered support to GLBT employees and joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce a year ago, I became more likely to support them. Now, folding to pressure from conservative “Christian” groups they are rescinding their support.

I thought the company was moving in the right direction,” one Wal-Mart employee wrote in an e-mail to Fortune. “But last week changed everything. Pulling funding from GLBT organizations is a slap in the face to gay employees, and it sends a very clear message. Diversity within Wal-Mart is only partially inclusive.” Article

To me it is one thing if a company has never addressed the issue of gay rights, but when one signals acceptance and then reverses their policy, I agree, it is a slap in the face. I’m not saying I will not ever shop there; in fact there is something I have already planned to go and get. After all, they are still working to educate employees on GLBT issues, and support their gay personnel. But I just might increase my likelihood of Target shopping, and it won’t be long until Target and Publix are both in Bessemer according to the sign visible from I-459 near Eastern Valley Road.

And, if you have not read about Billy Gafnea’s death in 1956, click here. This case needs to be reopened, if nothing else, exhume the body and determine the real cause of death!

Murder? 1956

June 21, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Debra Gafnea, who grew up in Brighton but now lives in Florida. She informed me that her brother had been killed in 1956 but that the nature of his death has not been established. He was 19 years old at the time, and on his 19th birthday he died near the Warrior River on a lonely road. The death certificate states “severance of the left jugular vein” and authorities claim he died as a result of an automobile accident after going through the windshield, but there were no cuts or scratches on his face as one would expect after being thrown through the windshield. Also, witnesses said the windshield was not damaged in the way it would have been had someone gone through it.

This story has now been published in The Western Tribune, in an effort to assist Debra in having the case re-opened. There are witnesses who are still alive, and who may know more than they said 50 years ago. The story involves a girl, a threat from another young man, and a car full of teens. Fifty years ago forensics was not what it is today. Fifty years ago this family could not afford to pay for an investigation.

There has never been an investigation of this death. Forensics today could probably tell from the remains if his neck had been slashed with a knife, for instance.

I am posting this because not everyone will see the story in the Tribune, and maybe, just maybe this link will be seen by or forwarded to someone who knows something. Please forward this to anyone who lives or lived in West Jefferson county and might know something.

Read about the case from Debra’s point of view. Seeking Justice for Billy Gafnea

Here is a picture of Billy’s jeans, with what looks to me like a bullet hole.


A close up

One of the girls said that Billy had been dragged behind a car, and here is a picture of his shirt, which could certainly look this way after dragging.

I also have pictures of Billy’s face, which I am not posting, and as I said above, there are no scratches on it .

A newspaper article that I have seen from Dec. 7, 1956 states that one of the boys (whose name I know and who was from Bessemer) admitted taking the car to his grandmothers house and cutting it up and burning the upholstery. He was arrested for leaving the scene. The two girls, and two boys, who know more than they told in 1956, are still living. One of the boys lived on 8th Ave and the other on West Lake Drive in Bessemer at the time.

The murder of a 19 year old in 1956 is just as unsettling as the murder of a 14 year old in 2007.

>Murder? 1956

June 21, 2007

>

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Debra Gafnea, who grew up in Brighton but now lives in Florida. She informed me that her brother had been killed in 1956 but that the nature of his death has not been established. He was 19 years old at the time, and on his 19th birthday he died near the Warrior River on a lonely road. The death certificate states “severance of the left jugular vein” and authorities claim he died as a result of an automobile accident after going through the windshield, but there were no cuts or scratches on his face as one would expect after being thrown through the windshield. Also, witnesses said the windshield was not damaged in the way it would have been had someone gone through it.

This story has now been published in The Western Tribune, in an effort to assist Debra in having the case re-opened. There are witnesses who are still alive, and who may know more than they said 50 years ago. The story involves a girl, a threat from another young man, and a car full of teens. Fifty years ago forensics was not what it is today. Fifty years ago this family could not afford to pay for an investigation.

There has never been an investigation of this death. Forensics today could probably tell from the remains if his neck had been slashed with a knife, for instance.

I am posting this because not everyone will see the story in the Tribune, and maybe, just maybe this link will be seen by or forwarded to someone who knows something. Please forward this to anyone who lives or lived in West Jefferson county and might know something.

Read about the case from Debra’s point of view. Seeking Justice for Billy Gafnea

Here is a picture of Billy’s jeans, with what looks to me like a bullet hole.


A close up

One of the girls said that Billy had been dragged behind a car, and here is a picture of his shirt, which could certainly look this way after dragging.

I also have pictures of Billy’s face, which I am not posting, and as I said above, there are no scratches on it .

A newspaper article that I have seen from Dec. 7, 1956 states that one of the boys (whose name I know and who was from Bessemer) admitted taking the car to his grandmothers house and cutting it up and burning the upholstery. He was arrested for leaving the scene. The two girls, and two boys, who know more than they told in 1956, are still living. One of the boys lived on 8th Ave and the other on West Lake Drive in Bessemer at the time.

The murder of a 19 year old in 1956 is just as unsettling as the murder of a 14 year old in 2007.