Skip to main content

From Death Row Tennessee: True Stories of the Executed

Kim Bryan has experience as a waitress in a diner. She's sharing her tips (that will hopefully result in big tips!).

Before 1913, execution of criminals was done by public hanging. Unfortunately, no records were kept of the number of persons executed in this manner nor even their names. After the two-year hiatus on capital punishment within the state, Tennessee executed 125 people by way of the electric chair from 1916 to 1960.

There were no executions in Tennessee in the years between November 1960 and April 2000, soon after the state chose lethal injection as their primary means of executing death sentences. Condemned prisoners in Tennessee today can, however, choose to be executed with electricity. However, as of this writing, only one of seven has chosen to do so.

The following is a roster of Tennessee's executed men. There have been no women executed in this state at the time of this writing.

The stories of what earned each of them a membership into a club no one wishes to join have faded or horribly skewed with time, if not completely forgotten; possibly intentionally erased from memories, because of egos, scandal, or shame.

I, on the other hand, believe it is important to remember each of their names and why we, collectively as a society both past and present, believed their crimes so unforgivable we elected to "put them down" like a rabid animal.

All of the names are here but sadly, not all of their stories. If you can fill in any of the blanks, please feel free to do so in the comments below.


1. Julius Morgan of Dyer County: July 13, 1916

In 1916, Julius Morgan was a black man accused of raping a white woman. Vigilantes were desperate to lynch the man but the sheriff took great pains to protect his prison until he could receive a fair trial. Morgan was tried, convicted and after a failed appeal, became the first man to die by electrocution in the state.

2, 3. J. D. Williams and Eddie Alsup of Giles County: July 8, 1918

Both men were convicted of rape but no other information is readily available.

Mental health evaluation summary for Frank Ewing

Mental health evaluation summary for Frank Ewing

4. Frank Ewing of Davidson County: May 31, 1919

By all accounts, Frank Ewing was mentally challenged but a low IQ didn't stop the state from executing the 20-something year-old, illiterate black man from being executed for the rape of a white woman.

5. Winfred Walker of Jefferson County: January 8, 1920

The only information available about Walker is that he was a black man charged with the rape of a white woman.

6. Lorenzo Young of Shelby County: September 3, 1920

Young became the first person executed for the crime of murder following the reinstate of the death penalty in the state. He was convicted of killing Memphis Police Sergeant Job Brinkley.

7, 8. Cyrcnus Jackson and Neal Taylor of Hamilton County: August 3, 1921

These two men from Chattanooga were convicted of murdering a Chattanooga merchant during a robbery.

9, 10, 11. Hamp Gholston, Chelsey Graham, and Will Allen of Harden County: August 17, 1921

These three black men from West Tennessee were convicted of murdering merchant Harry Allen during the course of a robbery.

12. John Green of Washington County: February 17, 1922

Any information about about this executed criminal is long-forgotten in a storage room somewhere but one fact is clear: John Green was the first white man to be executed by electrocution in Tennessee.

13. Asbury Fields of Bradley County: February 18, 1922

Forty-seven-year-old Asbury Fields was an east Tennessee moonshiner sentenced to death for the killing another man during a robbery.

14, 15, 16, 17. Tom Christmas, Charles Petree, John McClure, and Otto Stephens of Anderson County: March 1, 1922

These four men, who were well-known bootleggers of the area, were convicted of murder during the course of a robbery.

Maurice Mays

Maurice Mays

18. Maurice Mays of Knox County: March 15, 1922

When investigators were interviewing Bertie Lindsey following her escape from a home invader wanted for the murder of her cousin, Ora Smyth, whom Lindsey was staying with that night, she described the attacker as a light-skinned black man. They immediately thought of Maurice Mays, a prominent biracial cafe owner in the area and from there worked at finding evidence to fit their theory.

Once detectives felt they had enough evidence, they arrested Mays. When the word spread about the arrest, an angry lynch mob stormed the Knox County jail determine to administer some pioneer justice. This outraged members of the black community and they fought back, intent on defending a man they believed was arrested because of his ethnicity alone; thus began the race war known as the Knoxville Riot of 1919.

However, despite only questionable circumstantial evidence and Mays' hiring of two prominent area attorneys, the jury convicted Hays of murder. His conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court but Mays was convicted again during a second trial and sentenced to death.

Sources: Knoxville News Sentinel , Wikipedia,

19. Granville Bunch of Anderson County: April 11, 1922

Thirty-six year-old Granville Bunch was none too happy when his wife, Barzilla Dougherty Bunch, left him and moved back in with her parents. When he went to ask his wife to return home, she refused so he demanded she return certain items he had given her as gifts - including the clothes she was wearing. After his wife borrowed clothing from her mother and complied with her estranged husband's wishes, he piled the items in the yard and lit them on fire before storming off the property.

A few days later, Bunch returned to his in-law's home and again tried to persuade Barzilla to come home. More determined than ever their marriage was over, she adamantly refused. When Barzilla walked away from Bunch, he shot her in the back.

For the duration of his imprisonment, Bunch claimed to have no memory of the shooting; even using it as a mitigating factor during appeals. It was to no avail.

20. William Dwight of Hamilton County: July 25, 1922

The only information available about Dwight is he was electrocuted for the crime of murder.

21. Austin Harris of Madison County: August 15, 1922

Information relating to Harris' conviction which resulted in a death sentence, but one archiving site did have an old newspaper on file in which Harris was quoted as saying, "Hons, I done it because I had to."

22. Jim McElroy of Roane County: August 15, 1922

On June 30, 1921, Ed Bennecker was a clerk at the Roane Iron Company where Jim McElroy was employed as an ore miner. As Bennecker walked to work, his passed by McElroy's home, who came out of his home armed with a shotgun. When a child passerby found herself between the two men, McElroy ordered her to get out of the way because he intended to kill Bennecker. Although Bennecker begged for his life, McElroy shot him in the head. When Bennecker's body fell to the ground, witnesses said McElroy dropped to his knees and began praying over the deceased.

What would posses a man to kill another with seemingly no provocation? McElroy claimed God had told him through a vision to kill Bennecker. However, with a thorough investigation, police learned McElroy had recently quit his job at the mine so when he went to purchase some items needed by his family at the company commissary, he was declined credit by Bennecker which had outraged him.

23. Ben Burchfield of Sullivan County: January 14, 1925

According to the Virginia Creeper, when five bodies were found among the rubble of an early morning West State Street residence in Bristol on Sunday, November 26, 1922, it wasn't suspicious. In a time before fire alarms, it was sadly a common occurrence for entire families to parish in such tragedies. However, a closer inspection revealed all of the victims' skulls were crushed.

The victims were James Smith, his wife, and 2 year-old daughter, as well as Smith's niece Delline Burchfield and her 13 year-old son.

Suspicion immediately turned to Ben Burchfield, estranged husband of Delline Burchfield. Until their separation, Burchfield had also resided at the Smith's home. Just two weeks before the murder, Burchfield had called upon the police to arrest Delline because she intended to divorce him. Officers didn't arrest Delline, instead they warned Burchfield to stay away from the family.

Obviously he had not heeded the advice, as when officers spotted Burchfield later the same day of the murders, walking along the road near Johnson City wearing blood-stained and ripped clothing.

During his trial a few weeks later, prosecutors proved Burchfield believed, albeit wrongly, his wife was involved with another man and his aunt and uncle in-law was aware and supported the infidelity. In a jealous rage, he had murdered the family while they slept then started the firing hoping to destroy evidence.

It didn't work. He was convicted on five counts of murder and executed for his crimes on January 14, 1925.

24. Robert Tate of Marion County: November 5, 1925

On January 2, 1925, merchant A.W. Condra of Sequatchie knew he would likely soon die as a result of the gunshot wounds he received during a robbery of his store, so he hurriedly wrote a will bequeathing everything to his beloved wife. Robert Tate was the man responsible for his death.

25. Charles Barr of Shelby County: August 29, 1926

They may have all been consenting adults at the 1920's version of a swingers' party, discreetly referred to as a "petting party," but that didn't mean jealous couldn't make an appearance; and it did creating a fight between O.W. Spencer and Charles Barr on November 28, 1925. When it was over, Spencer was dead and his girlfriend wounded.

26. John F. Webb of Shelby County: May 20, 1927

That he was executed for the crime of rape is the only information available.

27. John H. Wallace of Rutherford County: May 25, 1927

Wallace was executed for the crime of murder. No additional information available.

Email from reader T.H.: In researching some old newspapers for family history, I found some information regarding the execution of John Henry Wallace in 1927. Wallace was executed for the murder of Everett Hedgcoth, a farmer from Marshall County, Tennessee in 1925. The source is the Austin American newspaper dated 26 May 1927, page 12. That's all the information provided.

According to my family history research, Everett Shelton Hedgecoth was born 12 October 1891 and died 16 April 1925. The death certificate (insofar as I can read it) says the cause of death was "Gunshot wounds in chest, arm and shoulder from shot gun." The secondary cause was "homicide."

Evidently, it was a burglary gone wrong. Everett Hedgcoth's wife was also shot when they were aroused from their sleep to investigate the burglary. There were also two other burglars working with Wallace.

28. Herman Coggins of Davidson County: November 10, 1927

Before being arrested for the sexual assault on a ten year-old girl, Herman Coggins worked as a Nashville-area waiter.

29. Ben Fowler of Scott County: January 25, 1928

Deputy Sheriff Ben Fowler was the perfect prohibition-era officer and he was proud of his record of stopping more than 200 moonshine mills. His lesser known accomplishment, however, was Ben preferred not to be wasteful and often consumed the confiscated spirits himself - often to the point of severe intoxication.

Such was the case on the night of November 5, 1927 when Fowler went into the town of Robbins for a movie. Becoming annoyed with some nearby children he felt were being noisy, he demanded they be quiet or he would arrest them. This prompted laughter from others nearby which only enraged the deputy more. When he threatened the adults nearby with arrest as well, Dr. Wylie W. Foust calmly replied, “You won’t do that.”

In response, Fowler beat Dr. Foust in the face with his pistol before shooting him three times in the head. Foust's adult son, seated behind his father and armed with his own gun, returned fire his father's killer but his bullets did not penetrate Fowler's bullet proof vest. Unfortunately, two nearby moviegoers were killed by Fowler's bullets during the exchange of gunfire.

30. Will Terrill of Davidson County: June 19, 1929

No other information is available other than Terrill was a black man convicted of murder.

31. Henry of Davidson County: August 22, 1929

It's not noted whether Henry is a first name or surname. The only information available is he was convicted of rape.

32. John Jones of Roane County: February 14, 1930

The only information available is Jones was convicted of the crime of rape.

33. Cary Gune of Hardeman County: March 14, 1930

Gune was a black man convicted of rape.

34. J.T. Harris of Knox County: January 22, 1931

Harris was convicted of murder. No other information currently available.

35. John T. Shaw of Davidson County: July 3, 1931

Shaw was executed for the crime of murder but no other information is available.

36, 37: Oscar Bevins and Andrew Wilcoxson of Hamilton County: September 7, 1933

In the early months of 1933, 25 year-old Oscar Bevins and 26 year-old Andrew Wilcoxson were accused of sexually assaulting and un-named woman.

38. Willie Jones of Shelby County: October 30, 1933

Jones was convicted of murder.

39. Jim Allen of Knox County: January 5, 1934

Allen was convicted of murder.

40, 41, 42. Joe Emmory, Louis Fain, and James Swann of Jefferson County:

Joe Emmory and his 20 year-old friend James Swann was convicted of the robbery, rape, and murder of a woman in Kingston.

43. 44, 45. Percy Smith, Frank Mays, and Jasper Graham of Shelby County: April 4, 1934

These three men were convicted of raping Mary Louise Johnston in December 1933.

46, 47. James Pillow and John Deal of Shelby County: September 1, 1934

James Pillow, 15, shot and killed Chinese immigrant grocery S.K. Lum during a robbery he executed with friend John Deal, 14. Pillow was identified by the brother's victim during his trial as being the shooter.

John Deal was also charged with the murder of tenant at the Memphis boarding home where he was employed.

48. Bill Lee of Monroe County: January 2, 1936

On February 22, 1935, 23 year-old Bill Lee was spending the night with his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Shaw of Tellico Plains. After all had retired from the night, Lee entered the bedroom of his grandmother, demanding to know where his money was hidden. His grandfather refused and paid with his life.

Last, he entered the bedroom where his grandmother was sleeping with his young cousin and again demanded to know where the money was hidden. Like her husband, Lee's grandmother refused and Lee shot her as well. For reasons unknown, Lee spared the life of young cousin who was the one who ran to neighbors for help after Lee left the scene.

Detectives had spent a couple of months looking for Bill Lee when deputies in Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina apprehended the suspect after an intense car chase. While trying to outrun police, Lee had lost control of his car and it went over a 40-feet embankment before landing in a creek. Officers located Lee approximately 40 yards upstream of the crash site. At the time of his arrest, Lee was wearing women's clothing.

Source: Monroe County Law Enforcement Facebook page.

49. Walter Kennedy of Anderson Count: January 2, 1936

In 1935, 16 year-old Willie Bray, 17 year-old Elmer Bunch, and 32 year-old Walter Kennedy robbed and murdered Dr. John Lytle and Joseph M.Gordy. Kennedy was the only defendant to have death sentence carried out; the remaining two men died in prison.

50. Louis Willis of Davidson County: January 2, 1936

Willis was convicted of murder. No other information available.

51. Ernest Womack of Warren County: April 1, 1936

Womack was convicted of murder.

52. E.K. Harris of Bedford County: May 22, 1936

The first trial of E.K. Harris ended in a mistrial when an angry mob of townspeople, totaling an estimated 400 men, women, and children. took over the Bedford County courthouse and burning it to the ground. The mob was angry Harris had not been turned over to them and instead whisked away to safety. Harris was convicted at a second trial and sentenced to death.

53. C.H. "Curley" Ballard of Sullivan County: August 11, 1936

Curley Ballard had a peg-leg, a Kingston pool hall, and a greedy nature. He was said to have taken out life insurance policies on a number of area young men as was discovered when 17 year-old Willie Green was found unconscious on the side of Bluff City Highway in Bristol. He died just a few hours later.

When police arrived to question Ballard about Green's murder, they found the man in bed, reading the fine print of the $192 insurance policy for Willie Green with Ballard as the beneficiary.

Instead of collecting cash, Ballard was strapped to Ol' Sparky and an untold number of innocent lives were saved from Willie Green's fate.

Source: Bristol History Facebook page

54. James Smith of Lincoln County: August 11, 1936

Smith was convicted of murder. No other information available.

55. James Clark of Shelby County: August 11, 1936

Clark was convicted of the crime of murder.

56. Elmer Barrett of Knox County: November 13, 1936

Barrett was convicted of murdering Knoxville merchant W.M. Hardwick in 1935 during a burglary of the man's store, which also served as Hardwick's residence.

57. James Turner of Shelby County: March 5, 1937

Turned was convicted of murder.

58. James Taylor of Davidson County: March 15, 1937

Taylor was executed for the crime of rape.

59. Anderson Berry of Lincoln County: March 17, 1937

Berry was convicted of murder.

60. Tom Franklin of Davidson County: March 18, 1937

Franklin was executed for the crime of murder.

Gus McGoig

Gus McGoig

61. Gus McCoig of Union County: April 3, 1937

Several times McCoig went to prison for a vast variety of crimes, most of them to do with robbery, but every time he would escape. This would prove fatal to Sheriff Lewis Bratch "L.B." Hutcheson.

On December 6, 1935, McCoig, once again an escapee along with a fellow fugitive, robbed the Citizen's Bank in Tazwell. Notified by a teller of the robbery, Sheriff Hutchenson and a deputy set out to find the thieving duo.

When the robbers sped past officers just over the Clinch River bridge just outside of Maynardville, the Sheriff and his deputy gave chase. Unexpectedly, however, McCoig spun his car to a sideways position, blocking the road.

When the smoke cleared from the exchange of gunfire, the Sheriff lay dead. McCoig, a founding member of the infamous "Bunch Gang," would be sentenced to death for this crime and it would be carried out before he could escape again.

62. Roy Wilburn Eatmon of Shelby County: April 16, 1937

Just a week before the birth of his daughter, 24 year-old Roy Wilburn Eatmon, a resident of nearby Osceola, Arkansas murdered a Memphis gas station attendant during a robbery attempt. It was widely reported his wife waited outside the prison with the couple's infant daughter, her brother-in-law and his wife, and her mother-in-law until the execution was complete so they could return Eaton's body to his hometown for a proper burial.

Kingston Times; December 20, 1936

Kingston Times; December 20, 1936

63, 64. William Farmer and Harold Dunn of Davidson County: April 30, 1937

According to a small article in the Kingsport Times December 20, 1936, William Farmer and Harold Dunn, both of Knoxville, had fled to Florida after robbing and murdering Nashville businessman J.K. Milliken.

65. Jimmie L. Parrish of Davidson County: August 9, 1937

Parrish was executed at the age of 35 years for the crime of rape.

66. Fred Ritchie of Davdison County: August 10, 1937

Ritchie, 32, was executed for murder.

Email from reader K.S.: He stabbed his wife, my great aunt, Elsie Mae O’Brien, to death. Elsie Mae was the third child of 13 by John O’Brien and Lucy Greer. Her upbringing was every bit as tragic as her death. He father was a mean drunk who raped his daughters, and then abandoned his family and remarried, engaging in bigamy. Fred and Elsie had a son, who her mother adopted and raised as her own. When John passed away, they intentionally buried him in an unmarked grave, stating that he didn’t deserve the honor of a marker or to be remembered.

68. Arthur Mosby of Shelby County: July 25, 1938

Mosby was convicted for rape.

69. White Miller Tollet of Carter County: January 11, 1939

When Herman Gouge's three daughters are killed in an early morning explosion as they slept, the man knew who was responsible. He'd long known the relatives of his former friend, Arnold Tollet, were out to get him. Not too long ago, he and Arnold had a disagreement; when Arnold brandished a knife and threatened Herman, he defended himself with a pistol. Arnold had died and the Tollet's wanted revenge.

White Tollet, his brother, Cave and friends Church Lester, Ulysses Walling, and Lee Walker, were charged with three counts of murder; one count for each of the Gouge girls.

Following their trial in March 1938, Cave Tollet was acquitted; Walker and Walling were found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 21 years in prison; and White Tollet and Lester were convicted were convicted of first degree homicide and sentenced to death. Church Lester, however, was not present to hear the verdict as he had committed suicide by hanging earlier the same month.

Source: Elizabethton Star Online

70. Ernest Stanley of Morgan County: January 19, 1939

Stanley was executed for the crime of murder. No additional information is available.

71, 72. Frank Murray and Hyman Johnson of Davidson County: March 28, 1939

Nineteen year-old Frank Murray and Hyman Johnson were convicted of the 1938 murder of Polish immigrant and Nashville insurance salesman Isaac Gordon.

73. Herbert Harris of Davidson County: April 4, 1939

Harris was convicted of murder.

74, 75, 76. J. O. Martin, Joe McKay, and Willie Smith of Shelby County: April 10, 1939

On the night of February 17, 1938, Oliver James George was shot and killed as he and a fellow employee closed the gas station where they were employed. The other employee, Joe McKay initially told police he and George had been attacked by bandits but the evidence did not support his claim.

Pressed to confess, McKay finally broke down and told police a shocking story. According to him, his employer, 42 year-old James O. Martin, had asked him to find him a "trigger man" to kill George.

What would possess a 42 year-old man to want his loyal employee of three years murdered? The answer was simply greed. Martin had paid for a life insurance policy on George and promised McKay half the value of the policy once paid if he found someone to do the deed.

The hired trigger man was Willie Smith.

77. Willie Williams of Davidson County: April 15, 1939

Williams was executed at the age of 33 years for the crime of murder.

78. Harley Evans of Fentress County: August 28, 1939

When two gentleman went to serve a disorderly conduct warrant on Evans at his Jamestown home, he responded by shooting them to death.

Harley Evans (right)

Harley Evans (right)

79. Clyde Willis of Knox County: January 10, 1940

Willis was convicted of rape.

80. A.C. Mobley of Shelby County: March 15, 1940

Mobley was executed for the crime of rape.

81. James Goodin of Shelby County: September 4, 1940

Goodin was convicted of murder.

82. William Henry of Dyer County: September 4, 1940

Dyer was convicted of murder.

83.Van Gilmore of Shelby County: April 18, 1941

Gilmore was executed for the crime of rape.

84. Walter Reed of Hamilton County: July 18, 1941

On Saturday, April 12, 1941, Reed beat prominent Chattanooga woman Mrs. James Fowler Cathey to death with a baseball bat and attempted to rape her corpse.

85, 86. Willie Lee Porter and Carl Cole of Madison County: July 24, 1941

Twenty-one year-old Willie Lee Porter and 23 year-old Carl Cole beat Jackson Bottling Company nightwatchman Grant Vernon to death with a baseball bat. Both men denied they swung the lethal blows. Weeks before his execution, Porter insisted he and Cole had been accompanied by a man they knew only as "Red" and he was the one actually responsible for Vernon's murder.

87. Lawrence West of Montgomery County: July 30, 1941

West was convicted of murder.

88. Roy Walden of Knox County: February 13, 1942

House before his execution, 38 year-old Roy Walden cried out, "Oh god, if I could only get them to tell the truth!" To whom he was referring is unknown to this writer but it certainly was in reference to charge of sexually assaulting an eight year-old girl.

89, 90. John Dockery and Ernest Dixon of Knox County: February 14, 1942

Just hours after Roy Walden was executed, so were John Dockery and Ernest Dixon, both also of the Knoxville area. Dockery and Dixon were convicted of raping a 22 year-old deaf and mute woman.

91. Clarence May of Sequatchie County: March 20, 1942

May was a 31 year-old farmer executed for the crime of murder.

Email from reader J.B. states: "Clarence May - March 1942 - was drunk and killed his pregnant wife - when he passed out his children went for help. I believe...Henry Barker was sheriff."

92. John H. Goods of Shelby County: March 20, 1942

Goods was executed for the crime of murder.

93. William Hedden of Polk County: March 30, 1943

Polk County Constable William "Bill" Hedden, 40, for the murders of 20 year-old Mrs Arllne Dillard Glowan, her 2 year-old son, and his expectant daughter-in-law Lecia Wright Hedden. The victims' bodies were discovered at the home of Jack Hedden, Bill Hedden's brother.

At the time of this writing, a motive for the triple homicide could not be found. However, taking into consideration his brother and son. also Lecia's husband, James, were also arrested with Bill Hedden, I feel confident in assuming it had to do with marital troubles between James and Lecia.

Only Bill Hedden was convicted of the crime. It's unknown if the others charged were acquitted or if charges were dismissed before trial.

94. Robert Cannon of Shelby County: March 30, 1943

"I have no one to blame but myself. I committed the crime, now I'm ready to pay the price. I am ready to die," said Robert Cannon just seconds before his death sentenced was carried out. Other than his sentence was the result of a murder conviction, no other information is available.

95. James Tucker of Davidson County: July 15, 1943

Tucker was convicted of murder.

96. Marshall Spigner of Shelby County: July 15, 1943

When Spigner was charged with murdering, raping, and robbing Memphis waitress Mrs. Jewell Roberts in 1942, he had only months before finished a 13 year prison sentence for murdering his girlfriend in 1927.

97. Clyde Arwood of Lauderdale County: August 14, 1943

Forty-one year-old Clyde Arwood is the only Federal prisoner to be executed in Tennessee at the time of this writing. Arwood was convicted of killing of federal agent William M. Pugh during a raid of his moonshine distillery on November 21, 1941 in the Hale's Point community of Lauderdale County.

Sources: Wikipedia, CaseText

98. Robert Hall of Hamilton County: December 15, 1943

Hall was executed for the crime of murder.

99. George Hambrick of Hamilton County: December 15, 1943

While serving time on another sentence, Hambrick was charged with beating to death jail work crew foreman R.P. McGrew while out on a job site. According to Hambrick, McGrew was standing over him as he worked, cursing at him and at times physically assaulting him. Hambrick said he could not remember attacking the foreman, claiming he couldn't remember anything about the incident at all.

Source: CaseText

100. Billy Dixon of Montgomery County: July 16, 1945

Billy Dixon was convicted of the crime of rape.

101, 102. Thomas Walker and Johnnie Outlaw of Shelby County: March 1, 1946

Walker, 33, and Outlaw, 27, were convicted of rape and robbery.

103. George Douglas of Shelby County: July 5, 1946

Douglas was executed for the crime of rape.

104, 105. John H. Luffman and Alvin Hicks of Stewart County: August 30, 1946

The Geocaching website tells the heartbreaking story of the double homicide of Grady and Ruphine Cherry of Model, Tennessee.

The newlyweds were quite poor and to make extra money, mail carrier Grady gave young kids, often girls, a ride into the Stewart County seat of Dover. One of the girls who often hitched rides with Grady was the daughter of John Luffman.

Luffman was approached by a local thug named Alvin Hicks had a crush on the new Mrs. Cherry and needed to get rid of her husband somehow, so he spun a tale to Luffman about how Grady's taxi services weren't as innocent as they seemed.

On August 15, 1943, Hicks accompanied Luffman to the Cherry's place of residence where he shot Grady Cherry. Ruphine Cherry was raped before they murdered the only living witness. The couple is buried next to one another in the Cherry Cemetery in Stewart County.

Albert Dubois

Albert Dubois

106. Albert “Bantam” Dubois of Rutherford County: April 11, 1947

Cab driver Albert Willis wasn't the first person Albert Dubois killed. When the morphine-addicted bully committed the murder which lead him to the electric chair, he'd already served 14 months of a 10 year sentence for killing George G. Snow at the City Cafe on the square.

Source: Rutherford County Tennessee Historical Society

107. John Hodge of Lauderdale County: June 19, 1947

Hodge was executed for the crime of rape.

108. Fred Jackson of Shelby County: August 11, 1947

Jackson was convicted of rape.

109, 110. James Sandusky and John Kelley of Hickman County: April 22, 1948

On January 6, 1947, 25 year-old Clarksville tobacco executive Edward Sprouse was the victim of a "target-killing" by James Sandusky, 20, and his 21 year-old accomplice, John Kelley.

111, 112, 113. William C. Turner, James Scribner, and Tommy H. Taylor of Davidson County: August 31, 1948

These three men were executed for the crime of rape.

114. Barney Thompson of Bradley County: February 17, 1949

Thompson was convicted of murdering his girlfriend during a dispute.

115. Edward Watson of Shelby County: June 10, 1949

Watson was sentenced to death for the crime of rape.

116. Paul Lacy of Maury County: November 25, 1949

Lacy was convicted of the rape and murder of an elderly woman. As Lacy was waiting to be taken from the courtroom following his sentencing, an angry mob converged on the courthouse, trying to get to the convicted man. Law enforcement officers on hand held the mob back until Lacy was securely on his way to Nashville.

117. Clyde Steel of Knox County: January 24, 1950

Steel was executed for the crime of rape.

118. Samuel L. Voss of Davidson County: April 15, 1955

Twenty year-old Samuel Voss and his girlfriend, Alice Jones, robbed and murdered a man identified only as Mr. Cox. Voss was sentenced to death but Alice was sentenced to only 20 years.

119, 120. Harry Kirkendoll and Charlie Sullins of Wilson County: August 1, 1955

Harry Kirkendoll, 33, and full-time tenant farmer and part-time constable Charlie Sullins decided to rob a gas station attended by a man identified only as Collier on the night of March 3, 1953. In confessing to the murder, Kirkendoll said,

He went into his station door. He turned around in his front door, facing me, just like he was looking right at me. I took aim with my rifle on one knee. I aimed at his heart. Just as I pulled the trigger, he jumped straight up and tried to holler. He couldn't holler, just made a sound. I knew that I had hit him then. He fell right backward, stretched out in the floor. He never kicked. I knew for sure that I had him then.

I came from behind the sign and station to see if things were clear, stood and watched for about 10 seconds. Seeing everything clear, I ran up and grabbed his billfold out of his left hip pocket. I then run back behind the sign, peeps out again to see if things were clear. Everything was clear. I run back to Mr. Collier, grabs his money pouch on his belt. I then take off to the car where Mr. Sullins was waiting for me.

Source: Justia US Law

121. Robert Crenshaw of Davidson County: September 15, 1955

Robert Crenshaw was executed for the crime of rape.

122. Robert Allen of Davidson County: March 15, 1957

Robert Allen was sentenced to death on a conviction of murder.

Billy Gibbs during his trial (1955)

Billy Gibbs during his trial (1955)

123. Billy Thomas Gibbs of Warren County: May 6, 1957

On the day his twin daughters were born in March 1955, Billy Gibbs went to his cousin, Henry Bratcher and asked for a loan. It wasn't the first time Gibbs had asked but he had never repaid so Bratcher refused his request. Enraged, Gibbs shot Bratcher in the back. When Bratcher's wife ran out with her 2 year-old granddaughter on her hip, Gibbs shot her and tossed the baby to her death in a nearby cistern. After waiting at the family home for a few hours, Gibbs shot the last remaining member of the household, nine year-old Lillie Mae.

Thomas Everett Rutledge

Thomas Everett Rutledge

124. Thomas Everett of Warren County: June 15, 1959

Only a little more than two years would pass until the small community of Warren County saw another resident executed by the electric chair for a brutal murder.

On June 14, 1958, 12 year-old Treva Joyce Raper of Campaign was walking to her grandparents home when she ran into her 32 year-old cousin Thomas Rutledge, who sexually assaulted her before strangling her to death and tossing her body into a thicket.

125. William Tines of Roane County: November 7, 1960

Despite a questionable confession and circumstantial evidence and seven stays of execution, Tines was executed for the April 1957 rape of widow Bertha Riggs of Herriman.

Robert Coe

Robert Coe

126. Robert Coe of Weakley County: April 19, 2000

In September 1979, Coe lured eight-year-old Cary Ann Medlin into his car then drove to a desolate area outside of Greenfield where he raped and murdered the young girl.

Coe was the first man to be executed in Tennessee by way of lethal injection.

Sedley Alley

Sedley Alley

127. Sedley Alley of Shelby County: June 28, 2006

U. S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Suzanne Marie Collins was stationed at the Naval Air Station Memphis in Millington in July 1985 when she was abducted, sodomized, and beaten to death by Sedley Alley.

Source: Wikiepedia

Phillip Workman

Phillip Workman

128. Phillip Workman of Shelby County: May 9, 2007

With an overwhelming cocaine addiction, Phillip Workman left his wife and daughter in Columbus, Georgia, and hitchhiked his way to Memphis during the summer of 1981. On August 5, 1981, Workman robbed a Wendy's restaurant. During the robber, an employee pressed a silent alarm. As Phillip tried to flee the store, three Memphis police officers were arriving and the suspect began shooting at them, killing Police Lieutenant Ronald Oliver.

Source: Wikipedia

Daryl Holton

Daryl Holton

129. Daryl Holton of Bedford County: September 12, 2007

Thirty-six year-old Gulf War veteran Daryl Holton was angry when his wife left him for another man. In retaliation, during a Court designated weekend he was to exercise parenting time, Holton shot each of his four children one-by-one on November 30, 1997, in an automotive garage where he was employed and had been using as a temporary residence. When he turned himself in to Shelbyville police later the same day, he supplied his motive when he said, "Families should stay together; a father should be with his children." Holton also claimed her had planned to kill his ex-wife as well as himself but had changed his mind.

Holton has been the only condemned man to choose the electric chair over lethal injection.

Steve Henley

Steve Henley

130. Steve Henley of Jackson County: February 4, 2009

On July 24, 1985, Terry Flatt testified his friend Steve Henley had dropped him off a short distance from the home Fred and Edna Stafford on Pine Lick Road in Whitleyville and came back a short time later with a shotgun and five gallons of gasoline. Henley told him, Flatt said, the Staffords owed him money and had wronged his grandmother. Having returned to the Stafford home, Henley shot them and set the house on fire to destroy evidence.

Until the very day of his execution, Henley maintained his innocence; claiming it was Terry Flatt, not he, who killed the Staffords.

Source: Tennesseans for Alternative to the Death Penalty

Cecil Johnson

Cecil Johnson

131. Cecil Johnson in Davidson County: December 2, 2009

When Cecil Johnson was only 24 years-old he was sentenced to death for the 1981 murders of James Moore, Charles House, and 12 year-old Bobby Bell, Jr. during a robbery of 12th Avenue convenience store in Nashville.

Share Your Thoughts...

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you agree the evidence must be concrete (i.e., video, pictures, DNA, etc.) for the death penalty so that there is no question of the murder's guilt?

Answer: At the time I wrote this article, I would have disagreed with you. However, since this writing, my entire perspective on life has changed and I can say that yes, I feel very strongly too many innocent people have been executed for crimes they didn't commit in the history of the American death penalty and if such a punishment is on the table, there must be several pieces of concrete evidence in order for it to even be considered. Truth be told, however, I personally no longer support the death penalty at all and wish it were no longer a means of punishment whatsoever.

© 2017 Kim Bryan