Old photo of a young, smiling man in a military uniform

Thomas Joe Hinkley interview

Friday, April 11, 1958

Thomas Joe Hinkley, a U.S. Postal Carrier and a friend of Richard Izard, found the bodies of Richard and Lisa Izard in a bloody mess outside their rural home while Hinkley was carrying out his deliveries.

This interview was conducted in the Izard family's kitchen on Friday, April 11, 1958, shortly after deputies arrived at the murder scene.


  • Detective Jack McPhail
  • Thomas Joe Hinkley

Detective McPhail: All right, Tommy Joe, I know you're shook up, but I need you to go through it all again for me. For the record, let's start off with you stating your name, age, address, and occupation.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Hell, you know who I am, McPhail. I went to school with you. You could probably say it better than I can right now.

Detective McPhail: Tommy Joe, I know you done washed your hands more than once now. Why do you keep wiping 'em on your shirt?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: I'm still all bloody from where I tried to revive 'em, for God's sake. … Hell, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be sacrilegious. I know how you are. I'm just so sick about this. Those people, they were the finest, you know? The finest in the world. … Y'mind if I take a dip? I'm still shaking, and my snuff seems to calm me.

Detective McPhail: That's all right, Tommy Joe. You go on ahead. Just don't spit on the floor. Use that empty Mason jar over there. Go on now. You know I got to ask you all this.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Sure, I know. All right. I'm Thomas Joe Hinkley, and I'm, lessee, ah, 35 until my birthday in a few months. I live out on New Zion Road, out past the old pecan orchards. Mailing address is Rural Route 3, Box 109, Oxford, Miss. And I work for the government, the post office.

Detective McPhail: That's fine. You're doing just fine. Now tell me what happened, Tommy Joe.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, I was making my route and came up to the Izards' mailbox, and I saw that Richard had a package from Sears again. He ordered work clothes, boots, and stuff like that from them, you know. They make good stuff.

Detective McPhail: You got that right. So what'd you do?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, I figured it was some more work boots for him from the size and shake of it. Then I figured he'd want it safe, and I didn't want to leave it out by the side of the road. You know what a long ol' gravel driveway they got, and all that white trash that lives a way down the road. I think they might be the ones who've been stealing some packages and stuff on my route. Uh, I'm getting off the track here.

Detective McPhail: That's all right. Just tell me what you did next.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: So anyways, I brung it up to the house, figuring I could throw it on their porch. See, Richard and me are friends. Guess that's "was" friends now. … Anyway, when I seen his truck, I perked up and thought I'd jaw with ol' Rick a bit, maybe feel him out about this weekend's poker game at Wally's — that's my baby brother, Walter — his house. And then I seen 'em.

Detective McPhail: Go on.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, there they was. Him all mashed up, and his guts and blood and brains everywhere. And those bloody tools all the hell around him. And her. Her pretty face. Her head all mashed in, too. Both of 'em dead.

Detective McPhail: Where were the bodies?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: "The bodies"? How can you talk about them like that? You knew 'em too!

Detective McPhail: I'm just doing my job, Tommy Joe.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Okay, okay. Just doing your job, I know. They were where they are right now—out by their garden, near the tomato plants. I maybe bumped 'em a bit, but they're nearly like they were. I didn't move 'em. I was so shocked.

Detective McPhail: You didn't touch either of 'em?

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.

Detective McPhail: All right, all right. So what happened next?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, I looked around, but no one else was there. At least not that I spotted. I reconned around the house kind of quick like, then went up to their hall phone and called you guys. Then I come out on the porch to wait. I was real nervous, looking over my shoulder, wondering what kind of crazy bas— uh, fool would do something like that. And, plus, I didn't want to mess up nothing, you know?

Detective McPhail: But…?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: But something kept nagging at me, something I spied in the kitchen. The playpen. Where was the kid at, the little girl? And Ricky Jr.? Knew it was past time for the school bus. No kids. Nowhere. I went back inside and looked, and I was afraid of what I would find. I tell you, I was glad I didn't see nothing.

Detective McPhail: I can sure understand that, Tommy Joe. Where were you when we got here? My guys said they didn't see you right away.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: What the hell you trying to say, McPhail? That it was me? I ought to— I was looking for the kids, you fool! What kind of man do you think I am, anyway? I was worried about those little scared kids, you know. Got to be scared out of their minds, if the killer didn't get them too or take 'em off somewhere. I thought they might be hiding out in the ditch or laying low in the pasture if they had the sense to get out of the way or something. I don't know. I just had to do something.

Detective McPhail: Nobody's accusing you of anything, Tommy Joe. Don't be such a hothead. Just cool off now. You're just like your brothers, always have been that way. Just calm down. I got to ask you all this. It's a matter of a criminal investigation. You know what that is, don't you? It's just the way we do things. I got to know where everyone was—is—at all times. So what time did you get here?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, it was after 2:30, I know that. Lessee, I'd delivered the Blakeneys' mail, stopped to talk to ol' Miss Waring for a bit … huh. Guess it was about a quarter of 3:00.

Detective McPhail: We got the call at 2:52 p.m. It took you seven minutes to dial our number?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: McPhail. I told you I guessed at the time! I'm not no damned clock.

Detective McPhail: No need to get to swearing at me again, Thomas Joe Hinkley. You just cool yourself off now.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, I guess so.

Detective McPhail: Now, you are sure and certain you saw nobody around here?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Not a soul, no sign of anyone either.

Detective McPhail: Did you see any cars hanging around out there on the road when you drove up? Notice anyone unusual around?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Nothing out the ordinary. I passed the school bus out the other end of the road on my way this direction, a couple cars. Nothing that stood out.

Detective McPhail: So when's the last time you talked with your brother?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Who, Wally or Aaron?

Detective McPhail: Walter Hinkley.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: What's he got to do with it?

Detective McPhail: Just answer the question, all right, Hinkley?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: No need to get snappy about it. I guess it was a couple of days ago. I'm not sure.

Detective McPhail: What do you know about today's activities at the Bowlan Glove Factory?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, I guess they made gloves. What do you think everybody did?

Detective McPhail: Not everybody, my friend. About 150 of them won't be making any more gloves anytime soon.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: No shit! I mean, no kidding? They laid 'em off? Well, I'll be. Wally's been worried about that for months now with all the problems old man Bowlan's had with his money. Wally's got all those kids to support, and that new mortgage is so high. I sure hope he's not one of 'em laid off. Do you know who got the ax?

Detective McPhail: Yeah, Tommy Joe. Your brother was one. I'm sorry. I just called to check.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Ah, hell! He can't do that!

Detective McPhail: Sit down, Tommy Joe. Look at this mess you made, knocking that Mason jar on the floor. It's broken, and that nastiness is all over the place! You just stop right now.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Well, what do you expect?

Detective McPhail: You tell me just how mad your brother might be about that layoff.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Mad as he could be. He's worked there for years, you know, and him a veteran and all. How could Bowlan— Wait a minute. You're not thinking Wally—

Detective McPhail: No one's thinking anything.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: You got that right.

Detective McPhail: But I gotta ask you, Tommy Joe. Do you think your brother might have been angry enough to kill either of the Izards?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: No way. What did they have to do with the layoffs? Her anyway. And Rick was just Bowlan's mouthpiece. And in case you're fixing to ask what I think you're gonna ask, me neither. I didn't even know about the blamed layoffs being official until you told me yourself. And if I'd known, I wouldn't have gotten mad at Rick. It'd be old man Bowlan, that dirty—

Detective McPhail: Enough of that, all right? And don't you be spitting on this floor no more, you hear?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: So when can I go? I don't think I want to talk to you anymore, McPhail. No more at all.

Detective McPhail: You'll go when I say you can go. Which should be soon. I know it's been hard on you, but I'll want to talk to you again, so don't you go making yourself scarce, you hear me? For now, just tell me where the package is—the one you delivered.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: One of your guys got it.

Detective McPhail: What'd I just tell you? You spitting at my shoes on purpose? 'Cause I can make this a lot more unpleasant for you, Tommy Joe.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: I don't know what you're talking about. Ask him where that package is now, the tall one over there.

Detective McPhail: Got it. And I'll need to take a look at the rest of your mailbag, too.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Oh, no, you don't. This is the U.S. Mail. I know my rights. Can't nobody look at somebody else's mail. And I'm gonna call into the main office now—if you don't mind!—so I can get a replacement to finish my route out if it's not too late already.

Detective McPhail: Yes, I do mind, and no more mail from that bag is going to be delivered yet today, Tommy Joe. This here is a murder investigation, and we need to look for some motive— ah, hellfire and damnation. Fine, I'll call your supervisor and get his permission. Happy now?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Happy as I'm gonna get.

Detective McPhail: Don't get up too quick. You gonna leave that nasty tobacco spit and broken glass mess here? You made the mess, so you clean it up now. Just stay here near the table, though.

Thomas Joe Hinkley: All right, all right. I'm going. I can't help it, McPhail. I'm so shook over this whole thing. Where you think the kids went to? You don't think they're dead too, do you?

Detective McPhail: Well, now, Tommy Joe, I can't comment on that at the moment. You got any ideas?

Thomas Joe Hinkley: Hiding out or run off. I don't know. I hope that's all it is, though, McPhail. I can't stand to think of those kids seeing their momma and daddy like that. Or worse.

Detective McPhail: I understand, Tommy Joe. You get that mess cleaned up and go on home. We'll talk again.



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