Papaw was a simple man. He did not have any hobbies or interests; all he
ever did was sit outside and enjoy the view. We live way up in the woods
out on top of a mountain.
were fields across from his trailer and he loved to watch across them to
look for deer. He just enjoyed everything being quiet.
loved his family and he had a big heart. I can remember when it started
getting later in the evening, my Dad and papaw and usually my Uncles, we
would all go sit under this old tree and talk. It was so nice - you
could hear the whippoorwills calling out as the sun went down.
he has been gone I can not remember ever setting back under that old tree
again. It was like when he died, so did that.
granny and him were divorced and had been for years. They loved each other
very much but they couldn't lived together so he lived right in sight (it
was her tree we all sat under.) She would sit on the porch and he would
sit under that old tree and they'd stare at each other and never speak a
word but it was his way of being close to her. I had never seen my Granny
cry except when she found out he was gone.
very young and I don't have as many memories as everybody else does but I
cherish every one I have. I think I have had more grief since I have
been looking into the murder than I did when he died on September 8, 1980. I did not understand
death at that time; I was just a child and when I got older my family has
always protected me, not wanting me to know all of the facts. They
would keep things from me not knowing that they were hurting me worse
because I have found out how cruel this act was and how much he must have
suffered and I am having to heal all over again. If I had of known
more back then I could have been dealing with it all this time.
always looked forward to coming home from school. I would take off
to his house - I did this every day and I would play with his dog and he
would get me in trouble by feeding me candy. I think about how much I wish
I could hear his voice again. I can't remember how he sounded, just
the little things is what I miss the most about him. I can remember his
funeral; my Aunt sang Peace in The Valley. I wanted that song for his
memory page because I know he is at peace now, where he is buried is right
at the end of our drive way. You would have to pass this graveyard to get
to our house and it still has that view that he loved to sit and look at
still go there every now and then and sit with him but now my Granny is by
his side and they are looking at the view together .
The man who killed
Papaw is Walter Keith (W.K.) Johnson. He was caught the next day with the
bloody clothes on he had worn to kill Papaw. Him and some friends had been
stopped by the Police in another county and checked. They found the guns
and found out the ones that had been pawned to Papaw were stolen and they
took him in on that. Papaw's death hadn't been reported yet. They had just
found Papaw when all of that was taking place. The police took him
He was there when
Hamilton County Police were searching for him. They received an
unidentified call telling them where he was at. They called and sure
enough they already had him in jail. He went to trial and it took the jury
less than an hour to sentence him to 35 years for armed robbery and to
death for the murder. In the second trial it took the jury two hours
to come back with the same sentence. The case is simple; during the
second trial, W.K. got up in court and used his lawyer to show them how
the murder took place. He is a sick man.
Our supreme court
system took it upon themselves to over turn his sentence - 7 people over
turned what took 24 people less than three hours total to decide. This man
has no business on the streets. W.K. is claiming his lawyer in the first
trial would not let him testify in the trial. It's a lie! Now the lawyer
that handled that trial has passed away. He is not here to dispute his
word. He claims that in the murder trial of another man that his
lawyer again told him to plead guilty and he would get a lesser sentence.
He tells now that he did not shoot that man in the head with that
high-powered rifle, that my Uncle Hayden did. Well my Uncle Hayden
passed away 25 years ago so he can not dispute his word either. This
man is a proven liar but yet they feel he is telling the truth in this
matter. I am sorry, once a liar always a liar!!
W.K. bragged of
killing a state trooper believed to have been in Alabama. He showed the
gun and hand cuffs that belonged to the man to my dad. He tried to sell
the gun to my dad and he didn't want any part of it. He smothered an
elderly man to death in his own bed just to rob him. He told all of this,
but everyone was scared of him and wouldn't take it to the law and when
someone did there was never enough evidence to convict him. He has
got away with killing so many times and in my eyes he has gotten away with
it again. I don't care if they put him to death or not, just pray
that they never put him back out on the streets. This man has spent most
of his life in prison. He has no job skills; all he knows to survive
is to kill and take what he wants. His own family is scared of him.
His mother and my
grandmother were best of friends even after the murder (we do not hold
anything against his family for what he has done - they could not control
him) Ms. Johnson told my Granny that he would have killed her over her
last $20 bill if his girlfriend had not walked in; he already had her
down on the floor. He is just crazy!! I am hoping I can find away to keep
him in prison because he will be coming up for parole in about 3 years. He
is building day for day so it may be sooner than that I keep calling to
keep check on it but I can not believe how quick he is building these
days. I know 20 years is a long time but my Papaw didn't have a second
chance - why should he get a third?
Mamaw and Papaw with some of the grandchildren
Raymond Harris and four of his kids