6. The Virginia Murders
On September 21, 1909, six members of the Meadows family were murdered, and their house was set on fire. This crime occurred in the bucolic environment of Buchanan County, Virginia. More specifically, the Meadows family lived in the minuscule village of Hurley. The body of the patriarch, George Meadows, was found dead outside the burned home. His body had been struck by two bullets, and he had been severely mutilated. Inside the cabin was Meadows’s mother-in-law, Betty Justs, who was also found dead. George’s wife Lydia had been hacked into several bloody pieces, while their three children were also found badly mutilated.
At the time, the biggest employer in Hurley was the Ritter lumber mill. This means that the area was swarming with lumberjacks, all of whom were experts with an ax. Despite this, Virginia authorities focused on a suspect named Howard Little, a mountain of a man who had a local reputation as a philanderer. At the time of the murders, Little was already married with four children. The word, though, was that Little planned to leave his wife for a married woman named Mary Stacy.
Little’s bad reputation, plus the fact that he had already been convicted of murder in Kentucky, made him an easy target. Little’s fate was all but sealed when Mary Stacy told police that he had given her $20 sometime after the murders. Given that the police thought that the butchery at the Meadows homestead was done for robbery, they arrested and convicted Little.