12 of 19
After Johnnie Mae's death, her husband, Willie, worked night and day to support his family. With little time spent at home, the state ruled Willie an unfit father and took his children away. "I can remember when we were taken away from my father," says Shelton, one of Willie and Johnnie Mae's sons. "I hadn't seen my brothers and sisters for years after that. We were put in separate foster homes."
Shelton, the youngest of 10, was just an infant when his mother died and has no memories of her. He grew up longing for his family and always wondered what really happened on that dark night in 1964. "I knew there was more information out there than what I had known or heard. If you read back in some of the newspapers back then, they barely put anything in there about our mother being killed," Shelton says.