Aaron Hefner was found guilty in January of 1944 and given a life sentence for the murder of Pvt. James R. “Jimmie” Deskin, a soldier from Camp McCain. Herald contributing writer E. J. Mays wrote what would have been considered at the time a sensational account of the trial including details from testimony of the brutal killing.
Hefner was charged jointly with A. L. Shaw, chairman of the Yalobusha County Election Committee, in the wrench slaying of the 19-year-old Deskin. Shaw was to be tried separately.
It took the jury only 45-minutes of deliberation to return the guilty verdict. Judge John Kuykendall of Charleston sentenced Hefner to life in the state pen then refused a motion for a new trial introduced by Defense Attorney Ike Stone of Coffeeville.
Mays described the crowd for the trial as being the largest to gather in years at the Coffeeville Courthouse. District Attorney Gerald Chatham of Hernando represented the state in his first appearance in this section. Chatham opened with the presentation of Mrs. Margaret Nicholson Hunt, 19, blond, and sobbing as she told of being forced to go with the men as they “took Deskin for a ride.”
Hunt said that she accompanied the men because they told her if she didn’t, they would kill her and her baby.
She testified that Hefner hit Deskin over the head with the wrench and then handed it to Shaw, saying, “Now it’s your time.”
Shaw hit him over the head and they drove him to the spot on Hwy. 7 where they placed him in the road with his head toward the west and his feet toward the east and ran their car over him several times.
Hunt also said that Hefner took his knife, cut off Deskin’s tie and asked her if she wanted it for a souvenir.
• 5 years ago, Jan. 29, 2009 – Three mobile homes were burned down and several acres charred on Hwy. 32 several miles east of Oakland Jan. 22 by a wind-blown fire that spread rapidly. State investigators were called in because multiple homes were involved, according to Yalobusha Fire Investigator Frank Hyde.
Water Valley School District was one of 14 in the state identified as operating in the red after a 3.23 percent cut in funding.
The Water Valley Arts Council was established to “nuture, advocate and celebrate the arts in the Water Valley area,” according to Susan Hart, program director for the Water Valley Main Street Association. The council is affiliated with the WVMSA and served as a link between artists, local civic and cultural organizations and the community, she added.
A 23-year-old Yalobusha County man, Brandon Williams, faced felony charges after allegedly firing four shots at a home located on County Road 25 on Jan. 23.
A bridge on County Road 2 near Tillatoba was ordered closed after the Office of State Aid Road Inspection report cited numerous safety deficiencies with the structure.
• 10 years ago, Jan. 29, 2004 – County offices in the Water Valley Courthouse were closed while the structure was being renovated and stabilized. Both courthouses were being worked on as part of the $4 million project.
Yalobusha County recently purchased a new 2003 Ford E-350 ambulance.
Nine defendants entered guilty pleas in Circuit Court. The longest sentence was for 30 years for the sale of cocaine.
Dr. Glenn Baird, former principal in several Yalobusha schools, died at the age of 88 in Kentucky. He was the first principal in the Pine Valley School and also served as principal of Sylva Rena. He taught for 17 years before going back to medical school to fulfill his lifelong ambition to become a doctor. He practiced for 44 years.
The Water Valley School Board voted not to retain Coach Gary Drewery as head coach for the Blue Devils. He would remain in the position of athletic director.
• 20 years ago, Jan. 27, 1994 – Members of the First Christian Church broke ground for their new education/Christian activities building.
The WVHS Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) contributed $250 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association as one of their service projects. Pictured with the check were club members Tyler Hill, Tamela Judson and Bennett Hill.
The Anchor Club donated $100 to the March of Dimes.
Joyce and Dick Meyer were winners of the Pink Ladies’ quilt. The project helped to raise funds for the group that helps patients at the hospital and nursing home.
Molly Odom, seven-year-old daughter of Erv and Dr. Paul Odom was pictured wearing a hat in the Gurner Photography ad.
NWCC Band Director Glenn Triplet retired after 26 years with the school.
Tammy Calvert, Turkey Creek Crossing columnist, was lamenting why parents don’t get a volume of detailed instructions whey they have a child.
• 30 years ago, Feb. 2, 1984 – A series of letters to the editor took to task the Board of Directors of the Bank of Water Valley for their decision to tear down the historic structure on Main Street. Along with a long list of local citizens who wrote, the Herald also received letters from Bern and Franke Keating of Greenville, noted writer-photographer team, whose work appeared in the National Geographic and other respected publications. The couple has just published another of their coffee table books on Mississippi. They commented: “It would be a delightful show of the power of public opinion if the citizens of Water Valley made the bankers so uncomfortable about their short-sightedness that they would decide not to throw away the principal asset their bank can show the world.”
During Wednesday night’s service at First Baptist Church, Rev Guy Reedy presented the deed to the new Baptist Child Care Cottage to Dr. Kermit McGregor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Children’s Village. The new facility will be known as Reedy Acres.
Floyd McGehee was promoted to Vice-President and Dena S. King to Executive Secretary at the Mechanics Savings Bank, according to an announcement by President and Chairman of the Board Ernest P. Aune.
Each month, cafeteria workers at the elementary school bake birthday goodies for children whose birthdays fall during the period. Receiving a big cookie decorated to resemble a snowman were Rochelle Polk, Jason Feeney, Darrell Woodard, Calvin Kee, Angela Huckay, Margaret Keith, Tadryll Gooch, Vernon White, Annie Chandler, Teresa Walton, Melanie Goodwin, Cherinecka Jones, Cora Lynn Turnage, Thomasina White and James Benson.
• 40 years ago, Jan. 31, 1974 – New officers for the St. Cyr Commander No. 6, Knights Templar included Robert A. Ellis, Robert H. Miles, Howard Lynn Edwards, Tomie R. Ashford, R. L. Christian, John Kiihnl, Ira Lee Crowson, T. Olin Gore Jr., J. Raymond Crook, Charles L. Simpson and Edward B. Shearer.
New officer for the Magnolia Youth League were Jim Thompson, president; Tom Ashford, vice-president; Bennie Cole Taylor, treasurer; and Mrs. Peggy Howell, secretary. Keny Goodwin was named as Field Coach.
The Town of Oakland received a $27,000 loan from the Farmers Home Administration to expand their water system.
Coffeeville’s “high flying cage contingents” were the pre-tourny favorites to emerge victorious in the annual District 2 Class A South half eliminations to be held in the Water Valley gym.
In the want ads: Found – In my car about a month ago, a back brace. Come by Herald office and claim.
• 50 years ago, Jan. 30, 1964 – In the strongest protest to date, the Grand Jury reported that the county jail was in “a deplorable and unsanitary condition because of inadequate facilities.” They recommended that because of the condition, repairs should not be attempted and a new jail erected right away.
In the first ordination service ever held at the First Presbyterian Church, William Louis Mosal was ordained a minister and installed as pastor of the church.
New District Attorney for the 17th Court District Cliff Finch was pictured with Judge C. M. Swango as the Circuit Court session began here.
The Junior Garden Club met to discuss their project to put plants around the flag pole at the cemetery, according to reporter Toni Trusty.
Postmaster Paul Parker attended a conference in Grenada on the national Zip Code program, the postal department’s new five digit system for addressing mail.
• 60 years ago, Jan. 21, 1954 – “Who’s Who” elections were held at the WV Jr. High and among those selected were David Green, Mr. Junior High; Sara Nell Trusty, Miss Junior High; Ed Baker, Boy with the Prettiest Hair; Gay Peacock, Girl with the Prettiest Hair; David Green, Most Hansome Boy; and Mary Lou Mize, Prettiest Girl.
The Junior Auxiliary reported that two tonsillectomies had been done at JA expense. They also thanked contributors Mrs. Nell Trusty, Mrs. W. H. Felker, Mrs. Robert McLarty and Dr. A. E. Ramey for their books to be given to the grammar school library.
J. K. Gurner was selected as Scoutmaster and Jim Allen as Assistant Scoutmaster at a meeting of the Boy Scout Troop Committee. Also, Harry Fair was selected as Explorer Advisor and former Scoutmaster Lawrence Cox was chosen district chairman.
• 70 years ago, Jan. 20, 1944 – Superintendent J. N. Bell entered into a contract with the city of Water Valley to serve as superintendent of city school for an additional three-year period. He had be superintendent for the past 11 years and served as junior high principal the four years before that.
Corp. Dwight Hellums of the U. S. Marine Corp was included in a list of wounded released by the Navy. He was the son of Mrs. Lillie Hellums of Paris.
The O’Tuckalofa Baptist Church held a dedicatory service with Rev. Bilbo Lively, former pastor, Jan. 30. The church had been rebuilt after being destroyed by the tornado of 1942.
• 80 years ago, Feb. 2, 1934 – The Water Valley Melon Growers Association received their charter and elected officers including Dr. M. J. Wilhoit, president; Lucius Godwin, vice president; and Noel Johnson, secretary-treasurer.
• 100 years ago, Jan. 29, 1914 – City officials advertised for bids for the building of sidewalks on Central Street, North Court Street, Dupuy Street, Market Street, Robinson Street and Calhoun. The specs were for sidewalks four feet wide except for Central Street, which were to be five feet wide.