Leon McTatie

Background

On July 22, 1946 Leon McTatie, a 35-year-old tenant farmer on the Holmes County plantation, died after being whipped by six white men from Holmes and Leflore Counties. The men claimed that McTatie had stolen a saddle from his employer.

On July 19, 1946 Jeff Dodd Sr., owner of a Holmes County plantation, filed a criminal complaint against McTatie, accusing him of stealing three saddles from the Dodd farm. McTatie was arrested the same day and remained in the Holmes County jail until the following Monday. On the day of his release he returned to the Dodd farm where he was whipped by six men who sought to force him to confess to the theft of the three saddles. McTatie denied that he had done anything wrong.

McTatie’s wife, Henrietta McTatie, witnessed the entire beating from a clump of nearby bushes, and she watched as the men put her husband in a truck and headed down the road. Mrs. McTatie went to Sheriff Walter Murtagh and informed him that she feared her husband was dead.

On July 24, 1946 McTatie’s body was found by a fisherman in a lake near Indianola in Sunflower County, sixty miles away from the farm where he lived.  Medical examination of the body made clear that he was dead when placed in the lake.

McTatie’s wife’s two sons from a previous marriage – Jerry and Robert Haywood – later admitted to taking the saddle. McTatie was, as he had insisted, innocent.

Legal Status

Sheriff Murtagh arrested Jeff Dodd Sr. Vernon Vale, Spencer Ellis, Dixie Roberts, James E. Roberts, and Jeff Dodd Jr. on a charge of manslaughter.

District Attorney Harold Dyer Jr. indicted Jeff Dodd Sr., his son and three others of Leon McTatie’s murder. On October 22, 1946, after 10 minutes of deliberation, a jury found the men not guilty.