Saturday, February 9, 2013

1913 - Vigilante Mob Lynches and Burns Two Men

The Washington Herald
February 9 1913

Sees Throng 
Burn Murderer
Culprit Confesses, Following 
Lynching of Wrong Man
Day Before.
Killed White Woman
Officer Refuses to Fire on Friends
and Is Locked in Jail While Vengeance 
Is Meted out to Prisoner.

Houston, Miss., Feb. 8--Dibrell Rucker, a thirty year old negro was burned at the stake in the Courthouse Square here at 2 o'clock this afternoon.  He is said to have confessed guilt of the murder of Mrs. John Clifford Williams, wife of Deputy Chancery Clerk Williams, whose mutilated body was found in the basement of the Williams home Thursday.

The same mob, which visited terrible punishment on Rucker today, on Friday morning lynched Andrew Williams, a negro, for the same crime.  Rucker, in his confession, said Williams was his accomplice.  he admitted killing the woman himself, however, Williams merely helping to conceal her body.

Rucker was captured last night and kept in hiding by the Sheriff until about noon today.  The report of his capture spread and the men and boys who had once taken the law into their hands and visited the penalty on Williams, gathered to punish the real offender.

The Sheriff and his deputies, who would not fire on their friends, were overpowered, taken to the courthouse and locked in a second-story room.  From that point they witnessed the torture of the man they had surrendered.

Chained to Post.

Rucker was chained to a post in the yard, tar and sraw were liberally distributed around him and the match was applied.  As the flames mounted, Rucker struggled and shrieked.  Finally two shots were fired from the crowd and after that Rucker did not move.  While being tied to the stake or when the match was struck, Rucker never flinched.  It was only when the flames began to sear his flesh that he became terror-stricken and struggled frantically to break the pump to which he was chained.

For two hours Rucker was questioned by the mob.  He said he alone committed the crime, robbery being the motive. He denied that Williams was concerned in the actual crime.  He told of cutting off Mrs. Williams' finger, on which she wore a diamond ring, and told of the disposition he made of the ring.  He said he compelled Williams to assist him in disposing of the body.

Rucker was a servant in the Williams home, while Williams, the negro lived near by.  Two women, Dora Rucker and Anna Evans, negresses, saw Williams carrying the body of Mrs. Williams to the house cellar, and it was their story that led to the arrest and subsequent lynching of Williams.  Williams, to the last, denied the crime.  The two negresses were spirited from town when it became certain the wrong man had been killed.  The mob today continually called for them, and if they can be located it is believed they will be summarily dealt with.


Post Script
The atrocities of this case and many others are detailed in the book  Judge Lynch's Court in America: The Number of Negro Convicts In Prison in America, and Other Injustice Done to the Negro in America by Rev. Elijah Clarence Branch, Houston Texas.

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