7. The Murder Of The Lyerly Family
The case of the Lyerly family of North Carolina is best-known for a subsequent crime—the August 7, 1906, lynching of three black men named Nease Gillespie (seated right), John Gillespie (Nease’s son, standing right), and Jack Dillingham (seated left). All three were hanged by a Rowan County lynch mob for the murders of the white Lyerly family. Amazingly, the mob originally rounded up eight suspects in the case but let five go after subjecting them to an impromptu trial.
According to the James authors, these men were innocent. Like other victims, the Lyerlys lived in small town near a railroad stop. They were killed in their sleep by a man using the blunt side of an ax that he had found at the residence. This ax was then washed clean and left at the scene (both of which were common tactics of the Man from the Train). Other indications that this was a Man from the Train crime was the fact that the killer set the house on fire following the murders and left money in plain sight. Regarding the latter point, author Bill James thinks that the Man from the Train actually left his own money at his crime scenes.