July 14, 2019
"L.G. Stated ... that they were talking about him that he was the 4th suspect."
Like Heather Cliett and Vicki Hutcheson, L.G. Hollingsworth Jr. is an oddly ubiquitous character who popped up in the strangest places in the West Memphis 3 story.
L.G. was listed among possible teenage suspects just days after the killings. Two lists were compiled by Lt. James Sudbury from information from Steve Jones and Jerry Driver, familiar with the teens as Juvenile Court officers. One list had Damien Echols at the top, followed by Jason Baldwin, L.G., Domini Teer and, further down, Murray Ferris. A similar list had Echols at the top, followed by Baldwin, L.G., Domini and, further down, Ferris and Chris Littrell. While all the others were often listed as members of a Satanic group or witch cult, there’s little evidence that L.G. was involved in occult activity. Jessie Misskelley. though well-known to law enforcement, was not on the lists.
Like Jessie, L.G. was in frequent trouble with the law. Investigators soon discovered he called or visited Domini, his “cousin,” regularly and was well acquainted with Echols. Hollingsworth also had formed a friendship with an older man that officers found questionable.
L.G.’s aunt, Narlene Hollingsworth, called in a tip on May 9 that added to early suspicions about L.G. Besides stating she had seen Damien and Domini walking away from the murder site on May 5, she said “L.G. made a statement on Thursday that he knew about what happened before anyone else. L.G. has 666 on the side of his shoes.” Narlene made a similar claim about Echols’ boots.
In a case loaded with confusing family relations, the Hollingsworth connections were particularly elaborate. When asked on the stand during the Echols/Baldwin trial to identify L.G., Narlene said, “... He’s my ex-husband’s son, which is -”
The attorney asked, “So it’d be your step son -- at one time he was your step son then.”
Scott Davidson: “No?”
Narlene: “No, I’m - I’m his aunt through marriage. It’s just by marriage.”
Davidson: “You’re his aunt by marriage. But he’s your ex-husband’s son?”
Narlene: “Yes sir. I know it’s confusing.”
Davidson: “I’m confused on that one. Now, L.G. is you -”
Narlene: “- Ex-husband’s -”
Davidson: “-Ex-husband’s son, but you’re his aunt by marriage, how did that happen?”
Judge David Burnett: “Is that really relevant? Let’s don’t try to sort it out,” prompting laughter in the courtroom.
Narlene wasn’t just L.G.’s aunt. She had once been married to L.G. Sr., divorcing him after he became involved with her best friend. Narlene then married L.G. Sr.’s brother, Ricky Sr.
Narlene was also related after a fashion to Domini, whose mother, Dian Teer, had a sister, Dixie Hufford, who was divorced from the father of Ricky Sr. and L.G. Sr. Domini named Dixie Hollingsworth (Hufford) as one of her relatives in an early interview. Hufford was tied in with the Echols sighting, as well as reports of the puzzling activities of L.G.
Narlene continually referred to Hufford as Dixie Hollingsworth and described her on the stand as “my ex-husband’s use to be step mother” (Narlene and Ricky divorced between the time of the sighting and the trial). The Teers rented a trailer in Lakeshore from Pamela Hollingsworth, who was Narlene’s sister and had married into the Hollingsworth family.
L.G. Jr. spent much of May 5 riding around with Narlene and hanging around Domini before showing up late that evening at the Flash Market laundromat on Ingram Boulevard, managed by his grandfather’s ex-wife, Hufford.
After Narlene’s tip, West Memphis police made contact with L.G. the next day, Monday, May 10. Hollingsworth was a dark-haired 17-year-old ninth-grade dropout recently employed as a sacker at the Big Star West grocery. He had “little gangster” tattooed on his right biceps and a cross on his left first finger. The use of “little gangster” drew on his name, L.G.; the initials did not stand for anything.
No record seems available on the May 10 interview, but apparently L.G. said little that would allay suspicions. At the time that police were talking to L.G., down the hall they were interviewing Echols, who named L.G. as a possible suspect.
Police promptly searched the Hollingsworth home on McCauley Circle, just around the corner from the murder site, and confiscated a knife in a sheath and four pairs of tennis shoes.
That afternoon, L.G.’s name appeared in a tip from an anonymous caller taken by Mike Allen “who stated she had overheard that a Dominick & a Damion killed the three little boys & that L.G. last name unknown took and laudered there clothes. Caller stated that Damon had body parts in a box from the children. The caller stated that she didn’t want to give her name & that she heard that L.G.’s mother was going to lie about L.G.’s whereabouts.”
Information about “body parts in a box” persisted well into the investigation, though nothing conclusive was determined about the notorious “stinky box.” L.G. said the box contained test papers from a vo-tech class.
Also on May 10, police interviewed Narlene at her trailer in Lakeshore. She told Detective Charlie Dabbs and Lt. Diane Hester about sighting Damien and Domini walking along the service road near the Blue Beacon about 9:30 p.m. on May 5. She and her family had gone to pick up Hufford. “… So, then when I talked to Dixie Hollingsworth, I got to the laundry mat, she said that L.G. Hollingsworth had just left from there in some car. And, I said uh, that’s funny, she said that it is and she never did say why, and I thought it was funny, but I thought that he had just left from there and they were coming down the street.”
“She never did say why, and I thought it was funny” would sum up the episode of L.G. at the laundromat.
Narlene had found out about the missing boys the day after the killings while driving L.G. to his first day of work at Big Star, describing intuitive suspicions and hunches in her distinctively vivid style. “It was late, well, when I come back over in this area, again Thursday, because I promise L.G. that I would take him to work, cause he didn’t have no way but me, OK, when I come back down the street, I seen a white car that belonged to a policeman or an undercover car, you know and they were two others out there too, and there was a crowd of people gathered around and I said, that’s unusual.”
This occurred at about 10 a.m. at Barton and 14th. “Cause they were all gathered up there and I didn’t know what was going on, so I went down there and L.G. was saying, get me on to work. So, anyway I went on and got him on to work, so then later on that day he got off early ... I know he come to my house about 2:40 or a quarter to three and I thought that he would be working a little later than that on Wednesday, but anyway my kids started hollering about those kids, you know ... and later on that night, he came over there in a yellow car with some boxes in them, now what was in the boxes I don’t know. The kids said that the box was about this big and some thing like this and they didn’t know what was in the box, but he said don’t look at it, don’t touch it, don’t step on it or I’ll hurt you. …"
Narlene had seen L.G. earlier on May 10, much to the surprise of her interrogators.
“…The day I run into L.G. the day at the police department, he begged me to go in there and sit down with his mother and I said, I can’t do that. He said that I wasn’t at no laundry mat Wednesday night, I said, yes you was, he said, naw I wasn’t, I said yes you was, cause Ricky Hollingsworth” — so says the transcript but Narlene was referring to Dixie, not Ricky — “said that I had just missed you. I said, you better stop lying or they are going to get you for murdering these children, and they are going to want to know why you lie, he said alright, I was there, I said I know you was.”
Narlene told Dabbs and Hester that the encounter had not been on Thursday, as they first assumed, but that day at the police station.
Narlene explained, “I went there to pay my husband’s fine of $25 that he got in trouble and he got a DUI, I think …. Today I went down there to pay on his fine, L.G. come running out of the building where the police department, he said you go in there and tell them that you are mommy and I said, no, I won’t. I said where is your mother and he said, I don’t know but she won’t come up there with me, I said, well, I said, they will ask you some questions and you answer them, I said, they will let you go. And then if you start telling a bunch of lies and they catch you in them, he said well uh, I wasn’t over there in that area that day, I said, yes you was L.G., and then he said, I was, I said, I know you was.
“He said, if you start saying that about Damien, you’re going to get in trouble, I said, well, the mommy is up there saying stating that he was, Damien was with her all the time. I said, well the mommy is a liar ain’t she. …”
Police didn’t take a statement from “the mommy,” apparently referring to the never-credible Pamela Hutchison, until two days later, May 12.
Narlene continued: “He said, you seen him coming down the street, I said, yes L.G. and I am not lying for him. I am not scared of that boy. He said, well don’t you put yourself in that kind of trouble, well I’m going to take care of L.G.”
As Narlene predicted, L.G. remained under suspicion long into the case. Suspicions still linger.
The next day, May 11, police got another tip about L.G. from Robin Taylor, a third-grade teacher in Horn Lake, Miss., just south of Memphis. According to the report on her phone call, “This date a 8 year old student told her that she needed to talk to her about the murders in West Memphis.
“The girl said that her cousin came home that he is 19 and that he had blood on his clothes and himself.
“That her cousin had something concealed in a box and put it in his car and told his family that if they even went near the car he would kill them.
“Her Aunt said she would lie for him if he was involved and tell the police he was with her at the time of the murders.
“That the police had already talked to her cousin.
“Teacher advised that this was a good and usually quiet student and it would be out of character for her to lie.”
Notes indicated the student was Sara Hollingsworth, daughter of Debra Hollingsworth, The cousin was L.G., and two of the aunts were L.G.’s mother Linda and Narlene. Also, “Sara was afraid her dad would find out she told.”
The notes also indicated that L.G. was thinking about going to Georgia and that he had arranged children’s clothing on the table at the laundromat. L.G. was talking about getting out of town, but to Kentucky not Georgia. There was no other mention of L.G. having children’s clothing at the laundromat. Most of the victims’ clothing was found stuck at the ends of large sticks thrust into the ditch bed. Police did not contact the Horn Lake Hollingsworths until well after the arrests.
Detectives made a number of attempts to contact Debra Hollingsworth on June 15 and drove to her home June 16, only to find no one there. A neighbor said they were at a church camp. Police left a note asking her to call.
Durham finally talked to Sarah on June 17. “The interview took place at the Christian church camp near Sardis, Miss. Mrs. Debra Hollingsworth, mother of Sarah, was present. Sarah denied ever seeing L.G. Hollingsworth with blood on his clothes and said she did not see him put anything in his car or threaten anybody. She denied knowing anything about this alleged incident.”
Other than rumors and anonymous tips, there was little evidence that L.G. did more at the laundromat than drop by briefly to get a telephone number. Questions about the “stinky box” may linger forever.
The primary evidence, the confessions of Misskelley, made no mention of any involvement of L.G. or anyone other than the West Memphis 3.
Questions about Hollingsworth’s involvement remained purely circumstantial for decades. Then a couple of career criminals serving long terms in Arkansas prisons on rape convictions gave sworn statements in 2013 that L.G., Buddy Lucas, Terry Hobbs and David Jacoby killed the boys after being discovered at a sex and drugs orgy in Robin Hood Hills. The story got some play in the news, but investigators did not take the wild story seriously.
Back in 1993, however, Hollingsworth’s inability to come up with a consistent, corroborated alibi caused serious doubt about his professed innocence.
Soon after his first interview with police on May 10, L.G. was given a polygraph test. The results of the polygraph show up in a brief report on the www.callahan.8k.com Web site: “Didn’t know boys had been killed until Thursday 3 p.m. when his aunt told him”
And “Last time in Robin Hood Hills was Jan. or Feb.”
“Says he suspects Damien.” The notes indicate deception in the answer about Damien.
While it seems unlikely that L.G. would gone out of his way to help Echols, L.G. was on friendly terms with Domini. He told investigators he went to the laundromat to get Domini’s number. Her standing alibi was that she was home all evening with her mother and not on the telephone until 10 p.m., when she and Damien began a long telephone argument.
On May 20, police had received a tip that Dixie “Hubbard use to be Hollingsworth” had told “someone” that two boys and a girl came in the laundromat where she worked on Ingram at 10-10:30 p.m. on May 5 to clean mud and blood off their clothes. “Boone,” the tipster, said she was related to one of them, whose name was Hollingsworth.
Bryn Ridge and Gary Gitchell visited Hufford, 50, on May 20 at her townhouse apartment.
Ridge wrote: “She reported that L.G. Hollingsworth came to the Laundry where she works on 5-5-93 in a small light colored car and asked her for Domini’s number. This occurred at about 9:00 to 9:30PM. Dixie stated that Narlene and Ricky Hollingsworth picked her up from work at a few minutes before 10:00PM that night and took her home.
“Dixie came to work later and Linda Hollingsworth came in asking about where L.G. had been during the evening on 5-5-93. When Dixie told her of him coming in to the laundry in the small car she asked if she was sure that it wasn’t Richard Simpson’s car. Dixie stated that she knew Richard’s car and that it was not his….
“Dixie stated that we need to talk to Linda Hollingsworth but for us to know that she believes she will likely try to protect L.G.
“Dixie believed that L.G. had on a white shirt and tie that night he came to the laundry.”
Hufford made no mention of L.G. — or anyone else — washing mud and blood off clothes. Linda was L.G.’s mother, and there is no record of the police talking with her.
L.G. said he was at Simpson’s home in the evening; Simpson initially denied that. L.G. was driving a car unfamiliar to family members. Why was he wearing a white shirt and tie to visit a laundromat? Simpson did remember loaning him a tie, and Hollingsworth was scheduled to start his new job on May 6.
The L.G. story took a brief detour to Kentucky, where L.G. traveled with Simpson to see L.G.’s “fiancee,” Liza McDaniels.
West Memphis police received a message from Sgt. Jim Dorrow in Caldwell, Ky., on May 16, concerning Simpson and L.G., who had been riding a yellow 1979 Ford LTD around Princeton, Ky., in a suspicious manner.
They had rented two rooms in a motel.
Liza’s uncle and aunt alerted police about the tryst. Liza was found in bed with L.G.
Simpson produced an ID showing he was a building inspector with the West Memphis Police Department. The car was registered to Tri-State Word Ministries of West Memphis. Simpson identified himself as a 49-year-old building inspector for the City of West Memphis as well as a nondenominational minister.
The sheriff’s office there checked out Simpson’s ID with Gitchell and sent L.G. and Simpson back to West Memphis.
Ridge conducted another interview on May 26 with Hollingsworth, who gave permission for blood and hair samples to be taken. Said Ridge: “LG stated that he didn’t know anything about the murders and that on Wednesday he was with Richard Simpson at his house from 05:30 PM until about 9:30 PM. He stated that after that he went home just before his mother arrived home. He stated that he got on the phone with Domini and was talking with her about the problems that she and Damien were having and that is when his mother came in about 10:00 PM. …
“I next interviewed Richard Simpson who stated that L.G. was not with him during that period of time until Thursday evening.”
L.G. seemed highly interested in Domini’s troubled relationship with Damien; by her own account, she argued with Echols that evening as well as the next day.
Ridge first talked to Simpson on May 13, following interviews with L.G. on May 10 and 11. While Simpson’s statements did little to bolster the various stories from L.G., Simpson was inconsistent about L.G.’s activities on May 5, other than stating that L.G. had not been at his home that evening.
Simpson gave permission to search his home and his yellow 1979 Ford LTD (which supposedly contained the “smelly box”). Police found nothing suspicious. He denied direct knowledge of the murders.
Simpson had met L.G. after the teen introduced himself at Blockbuster Video. He felt sorry for the boy. “His family very hard on him.”
Notes on the interview stated: “… Believe that LG told of incident on Wednesday month to 6 weeks ago left & came back from someone very strong in satanic belief. Boy apparently hated L.G.” The somewhat cryptic note made a clear reference to Echols.
Simpson took a polygraph test May 14 and said he knew nothing about the killings. He told police “L.G. thinks Damon may have done it.” No deception was indicated.
Simpson talked to Ridge again on May 26, after another unsatisfactory interview with L.G. Ridge reported: “He advised me that he could not remember for sure but that he did not have L.G. Hollingsworth over at his house on 5-5-93. Wednesday evening, however he stated that L.G. called him at about 6:30 PM and requested that he come and get him. He stated that he thought that L.G. was at his home when he received the phone call. He again stated that he was not with L.G. at that time.
“Richard stated that he was with L.G. on Thursday evening and that L.G. spent the night with him. He further stated that L.G. spent the weekend with him and that on Friday evening he and L.G. went to a restaurant on Poplar in Memphis. He stated that L.G. did drink some beer and a margarita at the restaurant and that he also drank a margarita while at the bar. …
“Richard stated that he did remember L.G. borrowed a tie and shirt from him but that he couldn’t remember when exactly he borrowed the tie. Richard stated that if L.G. stated that he borrowed the tie on that date, 050593 he wouldn’t argue that but that he didn’t think that this occurred on the Wednesday 050593.”
Simpson took another polygraph examination. Durham’s note on the session said “Wed 5-5-93 said L.G. came over sometime after 5 pm to borrow a white shirt — he loaned L.G. a shirt & a tie and then gave L.G. a ride back home around 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.
“Said L.G was at his house from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. — Richard then gave L.G. a ride home. …
“Says not sure of date.”
This time Simpson failed the test.
Durham noted, however, that “Subject moved during test — yawned and appeared to be attempting counter-measures to distort the test.” Simpson told him he had taken pain pills because he had a kidney stone.
He then changed his story and told police that L.G. had not been at his house May 5 but had come over that Thursday and spent the weekend. Simpson did not clear up questions about L.G.
Ridge interviewed a Simpson house guest, architectural engineer Laszlo Benyo, on May 27. The statement from Benyo, a 45-year-old married architect from Budapest, did not clear up questions about L.G. Ridge reported: “When asked about the date of Wednesday 5-5-93. He stated that he was living with Richard Simpson during that time and that he is certain that he was at home during the evening. He knows L.G. and another young black/male who used to come over. He didn’t remember L.G. coming over on that Wednesday. He stated that he heard of the murder on Thursday evening when he was discussing with Richard his traveling plans and Richard brought up the murder of the three boys. He remembered that on Friday morning Richard took him to the airport for a flight he made to New Orleans. He stated that some days ago Richard became upset about L.G. calling quite late at night. This occurred last week. He stated that Richard sometimes cooked for L.G. He stated again that on the night before the conversation came up about the boys that L.G. didn’t come over.
“On the night before the conversation. He stated that he once … answered the phone and it was L.G.’s mother.” She asked him to tell L.G. to call her back. So Benyo seemingly remembered L.G.’s mother seeking him on May 5 and not finding him either at home or at Simpson’s.
In a May 20, 1993, story in the West Memphis Evening Times, contradicting his account of hearing about the murders from Simpson, Benyo said he had been out of town when he heard about the murders.
Benyo continues to work in his own firm as an architect in Budapest.
Domini made no mention in any of her statements about talking to L.G. on the evening of May 5. She said she talked to Damien on May 5 starting around 10 p.m.
Why would Hollingsworth go to the trouble of going to the laundromat to get her phone number if he didn’t call soon after? He had seen her earlier that day and would see her several times the next day but he apparently was feeling an immediate need to call. Why would he not act on the information? While he gave contradictory versions of other events, there was no contradicting evidence suggesting that he had not sought out Domini’s number.
On Sept. 2, 1993, L.G. gave another statement, this time to John Fogleman. L.G. had moved from 724 McCauley Circle and was living with Simpson.
Asked about his job search on May 5 with Narlene, he said: “Well, we went, uh, she was supposed to come over to my house, and she never did, so I borrowed Richard’s car, and I went over to her house …. OK, and I come over there too early, so I took her kids to school. … And then, I left there, no that was the day after, I’m sorry. She come over to the house, and got me, and we went over there. She took the kids to school. And then we went job hunting. …”
He got a job at the Big Star West Broadway, near the high school. Then “we got tired and went to Sonic, and then we got tired, so we was going to go home. … And on the way, she took me to my house and there wasn’t nobody there. … So, I told her to take me to my mom’s work … So on the way there, she had a wreck, and we stayed there at the wreck and after we left the wreck, we went to her insurance company … And then I went over to her house. No, I didn’t. I went to my mom’s work and got the key, and then I went home. … Well, I stayed there until my mom got there.”
He said Linda got home about 8:30 p.m., or “7:30 somewhere around there.” He said he had stayed at his aunt’s until around 5 p.m.
He had seen Damien that afternoon. “Well I went over to Domini’s and he was there, and I seen him before I left. … It was about 3 hours before I left my aunt’s. … Yeah, I’d say about 1:00.” He stayed “about 20 minutes.”
He said Domini and Dian Teer and Echols were there, making no mention of Kenneth Watkins. Dian told Fogleman that L.G. had been at their trailer on May 5 and May 6.
Fogleman asked L.G.: “Did you see them again at any time?”
L.G.: “Yes, I was, I said I was going to go ahead and walk home. So I was going over to my old aunt’s to see if she was going to give me a ride.” This “old aunt” was Pam Hollingsworth, Dian’s sister.
L.G.: “And then I seen Damien right there at the corner, and …”
Fogleman: “OK. Was he by himself?”
L.G.: “Yes, uh well, I seen him before that, I was walking over to my aunt’s, and him and Domini was out there arguing. … And Domini went her way, and he was standing on the other street … Like he didn’t know what to do. … And then I left there and went to my aunt’s to talk to her.”
Fogleman: “About what time was that when you saw them arguing?”
L.G.: “I’d say about 4:30. … Anyway then my aunt said that she couldn’t give me a ride, so I walked outside, and I seen Damien standing at the corner, and I asked him where he fixing to go, and he said my mom’s coming to get me, and this was at 5 minutes till 5:00. …”
Fogleman: “Alright, are you sure that it was that day?”
L.G.: “Yes. … Anyway, then my aunt took me home.”
Fogleman: “OK, was Damien, when you saw him, was he out there standing by himself?”
L.G.: “Yes.” L.G.’s story about seeing Damien at Lakeshore contradicted accounts from the Echols and Teer families and seemed to explain part of what actually happened — Echols being at Lakeshore, instead of going home, for a meeting with Baldwin and Misskelley later that afternoon.
L.G. said he did not know the name of the street but it was on a corner near where Baldwin lived..
Fogleman continued: “OK, then what happened?”
L.G.: “My aunt come around the corner and she said, well come on, and I said alright. So I got in the car and she took me home.”
L.G. said his mother and a female friend were home when he arrived, and they were “fixin to go to” the home of Mona Robertson. This contradicted some of his other stories.
Fogleman inserted: “Let me stop here and ask you, how are you able to remember all of this so well? You just ….”
L.G.” “Well everytime you say another word, it becomes clear.”
Fogleman: “But I’m talking about that particular, how do you remember that this happened on that particular day?”
L.G.: “You’re talking about Wednesday. I know what happened.”
Fogleman: “Well, I know but it was …”
L.G.: “A long time ago.”
Fogleman: “Yes, it was a long time ago. How do you remember that so well? Is there anything in particular about that day that makes it stand out?”
L.G.: “No, it was just a day. See I’ve been done with this so many times.”
Fogleman: “With the police.”
L.G. told Fogleman he had not gone over the story with anyone except the police, and “an investigator.” Fogleman asked: “Do you remember the guy with the beard, that dresses real fancy?” in reference to Ron Lax.
L.G.: “If he’s an investigator, that’s who I talked to.”
Fogleman asked L.G. what happened after his mother and her friend left.
L.G.: “Well, I stayed there for a little while, then I called my buddy Richard. Richard Simpson. …Then I went over to his house …. We sat there for a while, and uh, I don’t really remember. I think he was tripping out or something…. Then, uh, I went over to go to another friend’s house. And, he wasn’t home, so I stopped at my aunt’s work. Anyway, I left Richard’s and he dropped me off home. … I believe, I’m not for sure. I get the days mixed up, but I know what happened.”
So much for L.G.’s incredible memory.
Fogleman: “OK. Let’s talk about, now before you said that you went to Dixie’s place of work. That’s a laundromat.”
Fogleman: “Alright, which day are you saying that is.”
Fogleman: “Alright, before, you said it was that Wednesday. Now, how did you get there?”
L.G.: “Richard. I had his car. Richard’s car. … Richard was in the car on the other side, and I was driving.”
Fogleman: “Now, L.G., this is where we’re going to start getting into some problems. Um, Richard says, that he saw you that night and it was just for a few minutes, and that he didn’t go with you to any laundromat.”
L.G.: “Yeah, he did.”
Fogleman: “And your aunt says that she knows Richard’s car, and the car you came in wasn’t Richard’s.”
L.G. “Yes it was.”
Fogleman: “Why did your aunt say that it wasn’t and Richard said that it wasn’t?”
L.G.: “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
Fogleman: “You’re going to stick with that?”
L.G.; “Yes sir.”
Fogleman, bearing down: “Who was it, L.G.?
L.G.: “It was Richard.”
Fogleman was moving into some of the toughest questioning in the the case, though ultimately to not much effect: “Do you know why he wouldn’t say that it was him?”
L.G.: “I have no idea.”
Fogleman: “Why would he have any motivation not to say yes, I was with him, I took him up there?”
L.G.: “I guess you’ll have to ask him, because all I know is that we was together, and he knew it and I knew it. And we’re still friends, and he didn’t say nothing about it.”
Fogleman: “What about your aunt?”
L.G.: “I couldn’t tell you nothing about that. I don’t know why she said that.”
Fogleman: “You’re digging a hole, L.G.”
After a long pause, L.G. responded: “That’s the truth, man.”
He went on to deny seeing Damien, Jason or Jessie that evening.
Fogleman: “And you’re sure about that?”
L.G.: “Yes sir, cause I left there and I went home.”
Fogleman: “And what did you do there at the laundromat?”
L.G.: “I walked in and asked for Domini’s number.”
L.G.: “Because I forgot her number.”
He explained that Dixie Hufford would have the number because they were all related.
Fogleman: “OK. What happened the next night? The next day?”
L.G.: “My aunt came over to get me, no … my aunt came over and got me and took me to Big Star, and I went to work.” He started about 9. This roughly agreed with Narlene’s account of taking L.G. to work the next day.
Fogleman continued to express skepticism about L.G.’s story, alluding to Hufford’s account: “I’ve got her saying that you came in there, but weren’t with Richard. You weren’t in his car, it was a different car. And then I’ve got Richard saying, no, it wasn’t me that he was with. Now what would you believe if you were me?”
L.G.: “Well, I don’t know, I have no idea. I don’t know why somebody would say that.”
Domini told investigators that she and Damien “took out stress on each other” the day after the killings. Multiple statements concurred that the teen couple had a major argument over the phone late in the evening May 5.
Were they arguing that Wednesday afternoon? It doesn’t seem unlikely.
One of Damien’s complaints about L.G. was that L.G. had suggested that they swap girlfriends, which presumably would have paired L.G. with Domini. Despite being “cousins,” they were only loosely related. L.G. showed up at Domini’s house regularly for months and continued to call her after the arrests.
Dian Teer explained to Fogleman about L.G.’s visits: “… He used to come over fairly often because he was going out with Domini’s best girlfriend, Liza McDaniels … and they would come over sometime and if they’d stayed out too late and if her mother had locked the door on her, they’d come over to our trailer and spend the night.”
Asked about L.G.’s visit on May 5, Dian answered: “I don’t know exactly what time he left , but they was supposed to be going to see about a job. And uh, his Aunt Narlene and his Aunt Pam both live in the trailer park too and he went I believe with Narlene, to see about the job. … He went over to her house. … It was probably about 12, something like that.” She had no recollection of any calls that evening from anyone except Damien around 10 p.m.
Domini was also questioned about L.G. during Fogleman's interviews with the Teers on Sept. 20.
She did not mention L.G. visiting her trailer either day.
Fogleman: “You confide in the L.G. don’t you?”
Domini: “That’s my cousin.”
Fogleman: “You talk to L.G. don’t you?”
Domini: “Yeah. …”
Fogleman pressed her: “OK. Are you sure there’s not something you want to tell us?”
Domini: “Uh uh. Nope. I’ve told you just about everything I know.”
Fogleman concluded the interview with this cryptic remark: “Alright … Well, I’ll just let you and L.G. work that out.”
In a October 2016 phone interview, Domini Ferris lightly dismissed any significance to her friendship with L.G. “We grew up as cousins and he went out with my best friend. That’s about it. Nothing more to it than that.” She said she did not talk with him the evening of May 5 and had no idea why he was seeking her phone number that night.
According to Kenneth Watkins, who spent much of May 5 hanging around with Domini, Damien and Jason after he had skipped school, “We went to Wal-Mart to play some video games, and L.G. came to Wal-Mart then we went back inside Wal-Mart to get away from him.” This description of events on May 5, which agrees with no one else’s account, would have occurred between 3:30, when Baldwin got out of school, and 5:30, when Kenneth went home to babysit.
According to Watkins, in a Sept. 16, 1993, statement: “L.G. came over earlier that morning to talk … He just talked to Domini, I didn’t really know it, he was just talking to Domini about moving to Kentucky or something like that, with his girlfriend. ...” He said L.G. gave Domini "a little necklace. A black one, with a little green ball."
Bryn Ridge asked Watkins: “OK, and what happened at Wal-Mart?”
Kenneth: “We started playing games, then L.G. came up. We went inside and looked around at some tapes …”
Ridge: “Alright — you said L.G. came up and y’all went inside to look at some tapes. There a conflict between L.G. and somebody?”
Kenneth: “I think Damien said he didn’t like L.G. They’re always talking about him.”
Ridge: “So, when L.G. came up, was it Damien’s idea to go in and go somewhere else?”
Kenneth: “Yeah, he didn’t want to talk with him.”
Watkins said he thought L.G. left during the time they were walking about Wal-Mart over a period of about 30 minutes.
Watkins’ account of events at Domini’s trailer earlier on May 5 corroborated closely with other statements; his story about the late afternoon was largely uncorroborated and contradicted most other witness statements.
The case records at callahan.8k.com contain a recorded phone call between L.G. and Domini on Feb. 10, 1994, made after a Commercial Appeal article raised questions about L.G. During a preliminary hearing, it was revealed that Echols had named L.G. as a potential suspect. The headline: “Inquiry, trials haunt L.G. Hollingsworth.”
L.G. was concerned because Baldwin and Echols had tried to implicate him, according to the story.
L.G. complained: “My name’s in the paper.”
Domini: “Oh really, about what?”
L.G. “What’s, what’s that guy uh with Damien? Michael or somebody … Jason, that’s the name …. Jason, Jason is trying to say I killed them kids.”
L.G. asked: “Now you know I didn’t do it, don’t you?”
Domini: “Little Jason?’
Domini: “Don’t worry about it.”
L.G.: “Now you know I didn’t do it, now don’t you?”
Domini: “I don’t know. I ain’t saying nothing. I don’t know who did it. I don’t have an idea what’s going on or what.”
She told L.G. to not worry. Domini reassured him that she knew nothing about the allegations and that Damien had said nothing to her about L.G.’s alleged involvement.
Then, in March 1994, with the Echols/Baldwin trial under way, a prisoner named Tim Cotton, who had been in jail with L.G. in February after L.G.’s arrests on burglary and forgery charges, passed a note to jailers tipping them off about a major break in the case, if it panned out.
Timothy Robert Cotton, 26, was among those questioned in the first days of the investigation after drawing attention during the search. Like many others, but unlike either Echols or Misskelley, he passed a polygraph examination and was cleared as a suspect.
Nonetheless police received a number of tips about Cotton early in the case.
“Ref: Tim Cotton
“F/W called advise that M/W first name either Tim or Tom is possibly responsible for the murder of the three 8 year old youths in Arkansas. Called advised that m/w is into self mutilation and has broken bottles and cut himself in the presence of his sister. His sister advised the called that her brother had killed animals before and that when she heard about the boys she suspect her brothers involvement. Suspect’s sister name is Tamara and she works as a cocktail waitress at the Gulfstream lounge. Caller stated that the reason she believes he is involved is that he works at the Blue Beacon Car Wash (The three youths were found behind the Blue Beacon) Caller advised that Tim has been in an institution and like to play around with 5-8 year old boys.”
Charlie Dabbs took another tip on May 27: “Received a call from Sally Brady and Gina Riccio about the nite the boys were missing Wednesday nite and they were out driving around trying to assist in locating the missing boy. They advised they saw Tim Cotten from Lakeshore riding a bicycle that was green and yellow go into Robin Hood Woods at dead end of McCauley and as they were driving around … about 45 minutes to 1 hour later they saw him again coming from the other end of Robin Hood and was wet & muddy all over and they heard him tell some of the Search & Rescue people he had fallen in the bayou was going home and change clothes. They said he was a weird acting guy and just wanted to check him out. he was seen going in woods around 10 p.m. and coming out around 11 p.m.”
Cotton on May 8 told investigators that he did not know anything about the homicides but had helped in the search. He had just started working at the Blue Beacon and lived in the same neighborhood as the victims, not at Lakeshore.
He said he first learned the boys were dead around 3 p.m. Thursday when he overheard Gitchell. He passed a polygraph test on May 8. Cotton eventually passed along his own tip.
His note from March 4, 1994, pointed to L.G. Hollingsworth as the “4th Suspect.”
The note, as preserved on callahan.8k.com, is difficult to read: “L.G. Hollyingworth have told me, as Tim R. Cotton Sr., I state that L.G. had told me that was the 4th suspeck in the three 8 yr old killing on or on May of 93, He was getting cooke cane from Mr. Byers, & he, that is L.G. told me that a drug deal went bad & he & the three young men, to get even with Mr. Byers. By put a hit on his family & he told me, that he and Damien made a deal, just to get the Byers boy & hurt him real bad, and he went on for about a week. Telling me, Tim Cotten Sr. I wanted to no if he could trust me & I told him yes, & he said the two other boys was not part of the hit on the Byers family but they were all together that day. Oh yes there are two other people that helped the killers.” Cotton offered to testify in exchange for getting out of jail.
Sudbury and Durham interviewed Cotton on March 8:
“Timothy Cotton stated that around May the 5th or 6th he had left his house on Wilson Street and was going to job interview. Along the way he learned of the three boys missing. That someone in the rescue squad asked him to help look for the boys at which time he borrowed a 4 wheeler and helped look, but did not find anything.
“On the 13th of Jan. 1994 he was locked up in the CCSO. That later in February L.G. Hollingsworth was locked up. That he and L.G. had received a subpoena to court in Jonesboro. …”
Their link was that they both were potential (though minor) witnesses in the Echols/Baldwin trial in Jonesboro.
The report continued:
“That they talking about the subpoenas and L.G. told him: That he and Damien went to cult meeting together and that he and Damien drank beer together at the meetings and killed animals at the meetings. That the meetings were at Lakeshore then moved to the old RR bridge like you are going to Memphis. That L.G. told him, at one of the meeting a older man was there and appeared to the leader. …
“That later that week something came on the news about a 4th suspect in the killing of the three boys. At this time L.G. stated to him that they were talking about him that he was the 4th suspect. L.G. said he had the knife that belonged to the boys meaning Damien and his friends. …
“That L.G. has stated a contract was out on John Byers for a dope debt owed to him, but who ever was going to beat him up count get to Byers so L.G. decided to get Damien to beat up Byers son. That later Damien told L.G. that he had got him real good and two others boys that were there. …
“That L.G. said Damien told him that after the killing he had someone pick him up and that person was driving a green and white van and that they lived in Lakeshore on the back side near the sewer plant.”
The report repeatedly noted that Hollingsworth denied making these statements and denied that he knew Byers.
The report added: “It is the opinion of this investigator that Timothy Cotton is under the impression he will receive some type help or his case be dismissed if he can be a witness for the Prosecutors Office. There is nothing to substantiate the statement given by Mr. Cotton.”
Police brought L.G. in yet again on March 8 while the Echols/Baldwin trial was under way.
Sudbury noted, at 11:25 a.m.: “The interview consisted of allegations made by Timothy Cotton whereas L.G. Hollingsworth had told him of his knowledge of the killing of the three boys.
“Mr. Hollingsworth denied having made any statements to Timothy Cotton. “ It seems unlikely that L.G. never said anything to Cotton while they were locked up in a cell together for days. Police, reluctant to believe anything from L.G. to that point, took his all-coverage denial at face value.
Police then tape-recorded a portion of the interview, starting at 12:02 p.m. and ending nine minutes later, at 12:11. The interview did not delve into Cotton’s allegations. Instead, L.G. told about a conversation he had with Echols about two months, “maybe not that long,” before the murders.
L.G.: “We was coming back from my house, I believe. We was walking, I do know that.…. We was going to Belvedere …. To meet up with my girlfriend and his girlfriend. … OK. Damien asked me could I kill somebody and I says, ‘I don’t think I could kill them unless they did something really bad to me.’ I said, ‘I’d probably hurt them bad first.’ And then I says, ‘Why you ask?’ He says, ‘Cause I’m thinking of killing somebody.’ I says, ‘Why you thinking about killing somebody?’ He says, ‘They’re fucking with me.’ That’s what he told me. I says, ‘If there’s some man, then you just go and you break his ass or you get your ass whooped. If it’s some little teenager, you tell his parents or you call the police.’ I say, ‘You don’t need to do that, because that’s not cool, you know. You’ll go to jail for that.’ And we keep walking and stuff and he says, ‘Just say that you would kill somebody.’ I says, ‘OK, say I would kill somebody.’ He says, ‘How would you do it?’ I says, ‘Well it depends.’ He says, ‘What do you mean it depends?’ I said, ‘It depends on what they did to me to make me kill them.’ I says, ‘I’d probably put a bullet in their head, and if not I’d probably break both of their arms and make them wish they was dead.’ And um I says, ‘Well, What’s up?’ or you know, ‘Would you kill somebody?’ And he says, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘I’m thinking of killing somebody’ is what he told me. I said, ‘OK,’ I says, ‘you don’t need to do that. That’s gonna fuck your life up.’ I says, ‘it will mess you up altogether.’ He says, ‘Well’ like that, and we left it at that and we kept walking for a little ways more. And he says, ‘If I was gonna kill somebody I would tie ‘em up, beat ‘em and fuck ‘em. That way they would know that I’m not fucking with nobody. You know, I’m a straight up kind of guy. …
“And alright so I said, ‘Well look, you don’t need to do that, you know.’ Alright. So we walked on. Alright. And then May the 6th, I think it was May the 6th, when I did talk to Damien he was just kind of like sitting there. He was kind of nervous. …. At Domini’s house in Lakeshore.”
L.G. said he remembered the date because he had been riding with Narlene when she was in a car accident the day before.
“That day we sat and I talked to him for a minute and then I left. And I came over there like three times and they were still whatever they was doing, you know, sitting and talking. So I didn’t say too much and I left again. Anyway, he was on the corner, sitting on the corner and my cousin had run away. “ L.G. said Domini ran away from Damien during an argument.
Sudbury: “This is on the 6th?” L.G. had described a similar scene on the 5th.
L.G. “This is on the 6th. … I said, ‘Are you still thinking of killing somebody,’ like that. He says, ‘No I ain’t. It’s kind of tooken care of. Don’t worry about it, you know it’s OK.’ He said you know kind of fast, you know, I didn’t catch it at first. I thought about what he said and then that’s when I realized that’s what he said, you know. He said it’s tooken care of.”
L..G believed he knew that three 8-year-olds were missing at that time, but not that they were dead. “I don’t watch a lot of the news,” L.G. explained. “My aunt told me either on the 6th or the 5th there was kids missing. You know I didn’t even know where they was missing from.”
L.G. had not mentioned these conversations in his many other interviews with police. Police also found little corroboration from others questioned about L.G.’s activities on May 5 and 6.
Rumors have continued concerning the deaths of the boys as payback for a drug deal gone wrong. Mark Byers was a longtime smalltime drug dealer as well as a police informant. Greg Day’s authorized biography of Byers, “Untying the Knot,” detailed a number of Byers drug deals gone wrong, violent threats and retribution and Byers’ knack for bad decisions.
Also, the Crittenden County Drug Task Force was under investigation in 1993 by the Arkansas State Police over missing confiscated items including $200, a small amount of drugs and firearms claimed by officers for personal use. The Drug Task Force had been spectacularly successful in a number of drug busts, as local forces cracked down on drug traffic moving through Interstate 55 and Interstate 40. Critics have seized upon involvement of Drug Task Force members in the murder investigation to suggest that police work was tainted, particularly in dealings with Byers.
Still, there was no evidence beyond Cotton’s statement that the killers or L.G. had dealings with Byers.
Given the looming size of Byers, it’s hard to imagine a couple of relatively small teenagers planning to beat him up, which would explain why they might target his son.
The mysterious “leader” of the Lakeshore witch cult was described as an older man. Other statements have located “Lucifer,” “Lusserfer” or “Lucifier,” with widely varying descriptions, as living on a back lot in Lakeshore or somewhere in Marion. Did this fabled creature actually exist, and did he drive a green and white van?
Cotton did not testify. Police apparently did not give his statement a great deal of credence. Similarly, police treated all statements from L.G. with justifiable skepticism, except for denials about Cotton’s story.
The many contradictions in L.G.’s stories ultimately only confused matters as L.G. never emerged as a clear suspect.
In a case filled with unreliable potential witnesses, L.G. Hollingsworth was just another kid who seemed to be making up much of the story as he went along.
L.G. Hollingsworth Jr. was killed in a vehicle accident on Oct. 26, 2001.
Questions about the “fourth suspect” remain.