Oxford Eagle, May 24, 1998

Detroit Woman May Be Missing Child In 1958 Murder Case

New questions re-open old mystery

by Loretta Winston
STAFF WRITER

Forty years ago, on April 11, 1958, Richard and Lisa Izard died in the garden of their Yoknapatawpha County home, bludgeoned with a shovel in what appeared to be a crime of passion — or at least high temper. That same day, their two small children—6‑year‑old Ricky Jr., and 2‑year‑old LeAnne—vanished, never to be seen again.

Last month Doris Hammack, 42, arrived in Oxford, following a tenuous trail of hints and unanswered questions, to try to find her past and to answer the most pressing question of all: Is she really the vanished LeAnne Izard?

"I really don't know," Hammack said in an interview early this week. "Maybe I'll never know. But I'd like to. Wouldn't you want to know where you came from? I grew up wondering which day was really my birthday. Was it today? Is it tomorrow? I'd like to find some answers."

Doris Hammack's ring
Doris Hammack claims this ring is
her link to the Izard family

Two items led her to Yoknapatawpha County: an unsigned letter and an unusual ring.

The letter was given to the Immaculata Catholic Children's Home in Detroit, Michigan, on the day young Doris Hammack was taken there in August of 1960, left in the care of the nuns by a woman who refused to give her name.

The letter said only that all the child's family members were dead, that she'd come to Detroit from Mississippi but was now all alone, and that she needed to be looked after by someone who'd care.

The ring offered no clues at all.

Two years ago, after years of therapy and a lifetime of baffling, and sometimes bloody, nightmares, Doris Hammack started a search of Mississippi archival records, focusing on the years 1955 to 1960.

File photo of missing Izard ring
Photograph of the Izard heirloom
stolen from the 1958 murder scene

The research turned up three possibilities involving missing little girls around the right age, but only one included a missing child and a ring: the 1958 Izard murder case.

A connection to the Izard family tragedy?

"As soon as I read the first stories about the Izard case, my nightmares got worse than ever," Hammack said. "I knew I had to come down here, to find out the truth. What I read made me realize that some of my dreams might indeed be memories."

Although it wasn't mentioned in the letter, Hammack has always believed that the ring belonged to her birth parents, to her mother. "Maybe somebody told me that when I was just a little girl," she said. "I don't know."

The sheriff's department has confirmed that the ring Doris Hammack carries does, indeed, match the description of the ring that was missing from Lisa Izard's finger the day she was found murdered.

According to Elizabeth Jones, public information officer for the department, "The Izard murder case has not been officially moved to the status of an active investigation at this time."

She does not rule out that possibility. "Investigators are looking into Miss Hammack's association with the Izards. The possibility that this will move the Izard case to the status of an active investigation has not been ruled out."

Searching for answers to explain the past

So far, all Hammack has found in Yoknapatawpha County are more tantalizing hints and possibilities. "Do I remember this countryside?" she quizzes herself. "Maybe I do. Or maybe I just want to so bad that I think I do. This is all very hard."

Doris Hammack, 1998
Doris Hammack

Hammack's youth was spent in a seemingly endless series of foster homes in Detroit, sometimes staying as little as a few months and sometimes a few years with many temporary returns to the Catholic children's home in between. After one particularly difficult parting from a foster family where she had formed strong attachments, 13‑year‑old Doris was sent to the Mercy Mental Hospital in Detroit for depression.

"What I needed was stability and love. A home, not therapy," Hammack says of that experience. "I was very young. I was scared. I'd thought I'd found a home and instead ended up in that terrible place."

Doris isn't looking for sympathy; she's looking for answers. "I'm looking for facts, for the truth. Everyone's life is hard in some way," she says, "I've done the best I can with the hand I've been dealt. I'm a survivor."

For the past two weeks, she's been haunting the county library and records archives, trying to dig out any clues that might prove that she is — or even isn't — the missing LeAnne Izard. So far, all she's found are more questions.

A murder and missing persons case gone cold for decades

The unsolved Izard murder has entered local folklore during the 40 years since it happened. Teens are routinely dared to spend time on the supposedly haunted Izard property to prove their bravery,

An audio documentarian recorded this
popular schoolyard chant while visiting Oxford, MS, in 1959

There is even a rhyme about the case that's chanted by jump-roping schoolyard children. Quite likely, they have no idea that the rhythmic chant, as casually callous as childhood rhymes can tend to be, refers to a real murder and two quite real missing children.

Records of the four‑decades‑old murder haven't proved promising. There was no shortage of suspects for the murder since Izard had, just that day, laid off 153 men from the Bowlan Glove Factory in Oxford.

No identifiable prints were found on the shovel handle, and tire prints at the scene were inconclusive. Multiple suspects were interviewed over a period of months, but nothing conclusive was ever found to link any one person to the murders.

"It was like somebody just dropped out of nowhere, killed those poor people, took their kids, then took off back into nowhere again," said Yoknapatawpha County Public Library director Sue Hendrix, who helped Hammack with her early research in the area.

Such possibilities haunt Doris Hammack. Are her nightmares born of overheard stories or of memories from a time when she was too young to understand what happened? Is she Doris Hammack, or is she LeAnne Izard? Is it even possible to find out after all this time?

Forty years ago, many questions were left unanswered. Doris Hammack hopes that asking them again might help her find the keys to her past — and solve a mystery that's become a part of local legend.

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Comments (12)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

That jump-rope rhyme is kinda creepy

  McGeek
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I agree that it is creepy

  Yoshida Onesuke Saruwatari
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yeah man it sure is

  Dan West
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Btw i would say that we go to that institute and ask for a sketch of the woman who left dorris- low chances but we gots to take ze gamble

  Dan West
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Well thats seems like a nice plann but its has been almost a decade since the incident.Where do you think you will find the receptionist or the nuns? Just saying.

  Sang Komen
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hey m8 just a silly gamble i also didnt rly think much

  Dan West
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Doris was taken to a Catholic children's home. So the woman who dropped her off is likely Catholic.
Catholic families or catholic accomplices.

  Reasonz
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Or just someone who knew the place. She might have been a non-religous person.

  Sang Komen
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Could easily have googled a place to drop the child off, and not really know anything about the area.
My theory is the woman knew about the murder case, because she refused to give her name, whether it was her choice (which would lead me to think...

Could easily have googled a place to drop the child off, and not really know anything about the area.
My theory is the woman knew about the murder case, because she refused to give her name, whether it was her choice (which would lead me to think she is involved) or if she was given orders or forced, (which means she is still involved) or the small possibility she is very close with the murderer and decided to get rid of the evidence safely and move on with their lives, which indicates she is still involved.
I have a theory there was more than one suspect to the murder case and that it was planned, beforehand.

Richard was killed on Friday, April 11, 1958, at age 32. The mail carrier
discovered both Richard and Lisa brutally beaten and slashed to death
near their garden. Their children were missing and were never found.

This indicates that it is a likely possibility that the murderer had his/her emotions involved,
as it doesn't take extreme brutal force and excessive damage to kill a person.

Another reason I think its a good possibility that the murder was planned a good amount of time beforehand, is that the garden tools were used to murder/damage, and that they attacked when they were both outside doing their usual routine on a friday.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: I knew they was dead the moment I seen 'em, but I had to try, you know?
See if I could get a little life back into them, help them hang on until … But there weren't no pulse
in him. Nothing. Her neither. But except for that big bash on her head, she looked untouched.
Hardly dead. But both of them were.
You know, they was still warm, too. Christ. Sorry, McPhail. Not a breath of life in 'em.

This indicates the murder was recent, unless the weather contradicts this assumption.

Brown garden gloves, well-worn and dirt-encrusted, are found near Victim One,
appear to be Bowlan-made gloves. Victim One appears to have been working in the
vegetable garden 2.75 feet to the south of body at the time of the attack.
There is some area of disturbed dirt in the bed at 3.75 feet and two crushed tomato plants,
possibly indicating a struggle. No clear footprints are found at that location.

Not only can this possible indicate a struggle, but also an indication that the murderer/murderers(very
likely 2 suspects at least) could have tried to influence the direction of where the body is facing and the
blood. Considering this this murder could be planned, which is very likely because prior evidence tells me
that the suspects had spectated before they have done the murder, possibly on that day or a day beforehand,
because the murder was found while victim one and two were outside near each other, which would be the
prime position to execute both targets with control and efficiency.
I have doubt that the kids escaped themselves, because of this likely possibility that this is planned by the
suspect and the suspect had information on these victims, either from long spectating or the likely
possibilties that it is friends, fired workers or maybe even the wife's previous jealous and angry and impulsive
boyfriend which knew of the victims marriage and arrived drunk and angry and demanding of the wife to be
his.
This indicates he is friends with one of the victim's friends or stalked for this information

Victim Two appears to have been hanging wash on the clothesline to the rear of house.
Probable that Victim Two was not initially in view of assailant. Supposition that victim two
came to the aid of victim one and was then struck down. Wet wash is found in a southeast
diagonal path from clothesline to scene. It appears the shovel was the weapon used against
victim two and that little opportunity existed for struggle or self-defense prior to death.

I think this is false, victim two did not come in aid to defend victim 1, she is the wife and also
the position the murdered corpses were left in, indicates that this is unlikely, possibly that bodies
could have been moved.

4O YEARS AFTER THE MURDER HMMM. She is claimed to not know her birthday and have a ring
from the murder case, and the only one of the three murder cases involving kids missing around that
age but only one involves a ring too, which is the izard family case.
So there is a missing ring, which is victim's two ring. How could the child obtain the ring?
Possibilities: Victim two left her ring in the house and the child had taken it, but how, the child was only 2
years old, this must mean the most likely possibility is that the murderer gave the ring to the child, and
that child is the only one that survived, but the other kid might have seemed old enough to remember
important evidence and was probably killed because of that, so the killer had the intention to
leave their kids alive.
It is possible that the girlfriend/wife of the murderer had found out about the murder, or already knew,
and issued that the kid had to be left alive, and sent the kid to the nanny's place.
This alone for me most likely rules out the possibility of the ex boyfriend of victim 2, because
it would be very unlikely that he would have moved on from the relationship or that a female
would willingly work with him.
So it is possible that she was forced, or she received orders, which she did, because she refused
to give her name indicating she knows of the murder.
But that makes it more likely that assuming victim 1 had more male friends, and victim 2 more female
friends, that the suspect(s) is most likely one of victim 2's friends.

So the murderer had a motive to kill the parents and the parents only, because the child was delivered
to nuns by a female who refused to give her name. We can assume that the murder could possibly do a
number of things, which include: Giving orders to a woman, knowing her or not, to give this child away.
If that were the case, this means that the murderer had personal issues with the parents themselves and
not the children, which makes the victim's friends, fired workers or ex boyfriend of victim 2 (wife) even
more suspicious.

There was no tire prints at the scene, and the murder was very recent, which makes it likely the
murderers had a escape route into the wilderness, and possibly an espace vehicle near that
main road near them, which again indicates that it can be more than 2 suspects, and that it was planned.
Another possibility is the victim could have suicided, and this is hard to account for because no
information given about recent suicides around that time.

So if you came this far, my most likely suspects are:
Victim 1's or Victim 2's friend(s), possibilities are ex boyfriend of victim 2 and postman, but very unlikely.

Read More
  Marcus
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Sorry I had a typo at the end, I meant the "suspect" could have suicided as a possibility, but etc etc.
There is many things that stick out as a sore thumb in this case that I have not mentioned yet, and it will probably be very difficult to...

Sorry I had a typo at the end, I meant the "suspect" could have suicided as a possibility, but etc etc.
There is many things that stick out as a sore thumb in this case that I have not mentioned yet, and it will probably be very difficult to solve because of the time that has passed, for all we know the suspect has died of age or something.
I have enough reason to think it is friends of the victim's that should be most suspected, but by off chance it was just a serial killer that arrived at the right time and had the right oppertunities and right items at disposal, and for whatever reason left the one child that would most likely have no memory of this event.
It is said that a number of suspects have been interrogated or investigated, we do not know by what degree, and since time has passed it would make interrogating the right suspect very difficult if not nearly impossible.
And final possibility is that someone in the police force had set up the murder, and could have even set up the people that were most closely involved in the case, such as the postman etc etc.
It is strange why they would consider information from people such as the postman or ex boyfriend as information that could lead to the suspect being caught and have on this website, if they have already most likely interrogated and investigated these suspects thoroughly, unless they haven't.
I guess we can only speculate with the given information :/

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  Marcus
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"Do I remember this countryside?" she quizzes herself. "Maybe I do. Or maybe I just want to so bad that I think I do. This is all very hard."

I mean... Depression does cause memory loss so not remembering something is not that weird

  Skyler
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Also, she was very young when she would have left there....

  Alex
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