Thomas Harris and Family

Victims:

Thomas Harris
Frankie Thurman Harris
Mary Burnside
Ruby Nell Harris

Background

On December 22, 1949, three white men, Leon Turner, Wendall Whitt, and Malcolm Whitt were arrested at the home of Thomas Harris. The men broke into the Harris home and threatened to assault Harris’s fifteen-year-old step-daughter and his wife. The three men were detained but escaped from the Kosciusko jail and went on a deadly revenge rampage. They stormed the Harris house, killed Frankie Thurman, 12, Mary Burnside, 8, and Ruby Nell Harris, 4. Thomas Harris died from the wounds he sustained a month later. Surviving were Mary Ella Harris and her infant son, James.

Legal Status

Leon Turner, Wendall Whitt, and Malcolm Whitt were tried for murder. Turner and Wendall Whitt were sentenced to life imprisonment. Malcolm Whitt pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Turner and Whitt were the first white persons ever to have been convicted for murdering a black person in Attala County.