Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1974

Atlanta Constitution editor is kidnapped

Reg Murphy,an editor of The Atlanta Constitution, is kidnapped after being lured from his home near the city. William Williams told the newspaperman that he had 300,000 gallons of heating oil to donate to the poor. The 33-year-old Williams abducted Murphy, who was well known for his anti-Vietnam War stance, at gunpoint.

For the next 49 hours, Williams drove Murphy around the city, stopping to phone in ransom demands to the newspaper. Williams claimed to represent a right-wing militia group and insisted on receiving $700,000. Finally, managing editorG. JamesMinter delivered the money to Williams and Murphy was released.

Within hours, Williams and his wife Betty were caught in their home outside the city with the ransom money. At the subsequent trial, Williams attempted a plea of mental instability and told the jury about being abused as a child. There was also evidence that he had been using amphetamines, but the motive for the crime remains a mystery. Williams was sentenced to 40 years for kidnapping and extortion, and his wife received three years’ probation for her concealment of the crime. In 1975, Williams was granted a new trial, found guilty again, and sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. He served nine years in federal prison before being paroled.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

An American orbits earth

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, John Hershel Glenn Jr. is successfully launched into space aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut. Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National ...read more

American colonists practice scalping

In the American colonies, a posse of New Hampshire volunteers comes across a band of encamped Native Americans and takes 10 “scalps” in the first significant appropriation of this Native American practice by European colonists. The posse received a bounty of 100 pounds per scalp ...read more

Rhode Island nightclub burns

A fire at a rock concert in a West Warwick, Rhode Island, nightclub kills 100 people and seriously injures almost 200 more on this day in 2003. It was the deadliest such fire in the United States since 165 people were killed at the Beverly Hill Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, ...read more

Battle of Olustee

On this day in 1864, at the Battle of Olustee,the largestconflict fought in Florida during the Civil War, a Confederate force under General Joseph Finegan decisively defeats an army commanded by General Truman Seymour. The victory kept the Confederates in control of Florida’s ...read more