Monday, May 13, 2013

Lonely Graves - an Introduction

Lonely Graves, a Texas Murder Trilogy

Journalist and novelist Pete Hamill once said, “There is a growing feeling that perhaps Texas is really another country, a place where the skies, the disasters, the diamonds, the politicians, the women, the fortunes, the football players and the murders are all bigger than anywhere else.”

That observation proved true in the early years of the Texas Panhandle. Three sensational murder cases made national and international headlines. Each involved a husband murdering his wife. But the similarity ends there. One was a preacher, one a farmer, and the other an attorney. One used poison, another an axe while the other placed explosives behind the seat of the family car.

October 1897: a Panhandle, Texas Methodist minister decides to slip his faithful wife of seventeen years a lethal dose of strychnine the day after their 17th wedding anniversary.

Christmas Eve 1926: authorities in Parmer County discover the worst case of family annihilation this country has ever recorded after unearthing the remains of eight children and their mother.

June 1930: an Amarillo, Texas peaceful summer morning was turned into pandemonium when a blonde colored Durant drove through the gates of the quaint Country Club Addition and suddenly exploded hurling metal and body parts all over the neighborhood.

There was a time when all six subjects’ names, husbands and the wives they killed were notoriously famous and news services carried the latest details in each case to newspapers all over the country. Today all lie in Lonely Graves, where only occasional curiosity seekers visit the sites.  

Author Lana Payne Barnett has woven a tale of deceit, false pride, rage and the ultimate, murder, into an account that is a page-turner.  She began her research years ago when her father told her about a man who shared his name, a man who had murdered his wife and maimed his son. He was understandably curious about the case and asked her to see if she could learn the details. By the time she did, her father had died and, curiously, was buried in the same cemetery as the murderer who shared his name.

Barnett was born in Memphis and lived her first ten years in Lakeview before moving to Tulia. After marriage  she lived in Canyon for several years and worked for The Canyon News.  In 1991 she and her husband returned to Tulia where she was Chamber of Commerce President/Director for many years. Until recently she had a weekly newspaper column called Panhandle Tidbits and has a Facebook page by the same name with over 11,000 followers. She has published other books, magazines and a play about the area. Her latest before Lonely Graves was Route 66 Guide to the Texas Panhandle.

Lonely Graves can be purchased through
PayPal at
Or by mailing check or money order for $25.00 (includes tax & postage) to:  
Lana Payne Barnett
103 North Dallas Avenue
Tulia, Texas 79088