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Trent Brown

Murder in McComb: The Tina Andrews Case

  • On August 13, 1969, two men picked up Tina Marie Andrews, a twelve-year-old girl, in downtown McComb, Mississippi, a city with a notorious history of racial violence. The men took Andrews and a friend just outside town to an oil field, where they shot her. Andrews' friend escaped and later identified the two killers as McComb police officers. A grand jury indicted both for the murder, but no one was ever convicted of the crime: one officer was acquitted; the other had charges against him dropped. Other than in contemporary local newspaper coverage, the story of Andrews' murder has not been told. Indeed, to this day, many people in the community hesitate to speak of the matter. Trent Brown's Murder in McComb is the first comprehensive examination of the crime, the lengthy investigation into it, and the two extended trials that followed. Brown also explores the public shaming of the state's main witness - a fifteen-year-old unwed mother - and the subsequent desecration of the victim's grave. His study deftly reconstructs various accounts of the murder, explains why the juries reached the verdicts they did, and explores the broader forces that shaped the community in which Tina Andrews lived and died. One of the features that distinguishes Brown's work from other accounts of civil rights era violence is the fact that the murder of Tina Andrews was not a racially motivated killing. Everyone involved in this story was white. However, Tina Andrews and her friend Billie Jo Lambert, the state's main witness, were 'girls of ill repute,' as one of the defense attorneys put it. To some people in McComb, they were trashy children of undistinguished families who got little more than they deserved. In the end, Brown suggests that Tina Andrews had the great misfortune to be murdered in a town where local people were eager to support law and order and stability after the challenges of the civil rights movement"


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