Lee tried to expose the truth about what happened to Johnnie Mae as a young detective sergeant.

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C. Lee Cody Jr. was a detective sergeant with the sheriff's office when Johnnie Mae Chappell was killed. Lee says the sheriff's department did not assign anyone to investigate the murder, so he and his partner took on the case themselves.

Lee says he and his partner arrested the suspects, got full confessions and found the murder weapon. Still, Lee says charges against three of the four men were completely dropped. "Here is a black woman gunned down in cold blood on a dark, lonely highway, and none of them cared. We lived in a racist city and a racist town run by racist people," Lee says.

Outraged, Lee demanded answers from his bosses. Soon after, he was fired and his life began to unravel. "I got a job driving a garbage truck, and I wasn't a very good husband, and I drank too much," he says. "I was eaten up with it, there's no doubt about it."
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FROM: The Dream Lives: A Martin Luther King Day Special
Published on March 14, 2008

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