Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nightrider and Lady Sundown: The Bonnie and Clyde of Georgia

Mysterious Attacks

Georgia map with Rome locator
Georgia map with Rome locator

Kenneth Dooley was part of the staff at the Youth Development Center in Rome, Georgia, a facility for troubled adolescent girls (sources disagree as to whether he was a teacher or security).   One night in September 1982, a woman called who claimed to know his wife and who asked for directions to his home.  He gave them, but his wife of a few months claimed not to know such a person.  They forgot about the incident until the night of September 10.  This time, says Thomas Cook in the definitive account Early Graves, a young woman called for Kenneth while he was away.  She called again later, and when he came to the phone, an angry male voice told him he was going to pay.  He could not understand what it meant.

Later that night, four shots were fired into his home and two penetrated his study.   He saw a car speed away and called the police but did not know what to report.  He couldnt figure out if the shots had been random or intended for him, and if the latter, who might have done it.  Still, he was worried.  He had recently gotten married and along with his wife he had his two children in the house.  He remained awake the rest of the night, but he wasnt alone in being attacked.

The following night, a home-made Molotov cocktail was thrown at another house in town, that of YDC staff member Linda Adair, according to Michael Newton.   Thomas Cook records the fact from police reports that her husband told her that she had received several phone calls just prior to this incident from a young woman.  But when Linda had gone to the phone to take the call, the line was dead.  Right after the fire-bomb was tossed, a neighborhood boy had seen a brown car with cream-colored stripes speed away with a man and woman in it.  The woman, he reported, had long reddish hair.

When the flames were extinguished, the police examined the bomb, which had been made from basic partsgasoline, a cloth and a bottle.   They suspected that Lindas husband, an arson inspector, had been the target, but it soon became clear that they had guessed wrong.  The phone rang while they were there and Linda answered.  A young womanperhaps the same one--told her that she and Kenneth Dooley were both going to die that night.  So, clearly the assault that night had been a message for her.

This call and another one made later to police indicated that the two attacks were linked and that the motive was anger and revenge: a female caller who would not give her name or any other details claimed to have been sexually abused at the YDC.   Her call had been automatically recorded, which would prove useful when the situation became more complicated.  The police had Linda Adair listen to the tape of this call and she realized that the voice sounded similar to the woman who had called her in such an accusatory tone.  Yet she could not identify her as someone she knew from the YDC or anywhere else.

The police searched for clues and interviewed people at the YDC, trying to pinpoint who might have been responsible for the incidents and decide whether the allegation of abuse had any substance.  Since no one had been harmed in these attacks and since there were no clear leads, the case went on a back burner.  There was no reason at the time to suspect that the violence had only begun, with a particularly fiendish agenda.

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