About

There is a great deal of information on this website. The purpose of this page is to put the information into a context that might help you better navigate it and make the most of your experience. To help you understand the context, I’ll begin by sharing with you how I became inspired to begin this project in the first place, and its purpose. Next, I’ll explain a little bit about my creative process and the project’s evolution. Finally, I’ll describe the layout of Lonzy’s life narrative, which you may have already encountered on the landing page of this site.

Inspiration

My name is Rhonda L Thomas. I’m a family history enthusiast, and would even go so far as to say I’m an aficionado. I’m also an ardent researcher. In the course of family history research, I discovered my grandfather, Lonzy Haywood Minshew, was murdered in 1963 and that his murder remained unsolved.

lonnie_minshew5
Lonzy Haywood Minshew as a young man, c. 1937.

I spent time with my grandfather Lonzy only briefly when I was very young and have no memory of him. Through my research, however, I felt I came to know something of him and of his short life. The more I learned about who he was, the more I was inspired to keep looking into his murder: Learning about Lonzy and the circumstances of his murder are the impetus behind this website. Maybe it’s in my DNA to do this. Whatever the case, this project has evolved into something akin to lifelong learning – it’s something I do, it’s part of life, it never stops.

Purpose

While the primary purpose of this website is to track my grandfather’s killer, it also serves to keep Lonzy’s memory alive.

Context

This website represents over fifteen years’ worth of research into my grandfather’s unsolved murder: It contains documentation from the original investigation and notes from my own inquiry into the murder. While some information is gleaned from personal accounts, unless otherwise noted the vast majority has been extracted from historical documents available as a matter of public record.

Creative strategies

This project began with a notebook, a pencil, and many questions. It didn’t take long, however, for it to turn into a binder filled with documents. By the end of 2004, I’d built a Yahoo! GeoCities website online to share the information I’d found. The website eventually became a Google Site and included lists of witnesses and suspects, case documents, and timelines. Still, no amount of lists or timelines lifted Lonzy off the page and made him real to anyone who didn’t know him: He remained a title on a document full of dates and events. Over time, the Google Site gave way to a WordPress site; but the website still failed to represent Lonzy in such a way that it brought him to life.

One of the struggles I’ve had in telling Lonzy’s story is that there doesn’t seem to be any personal artifacts from his life; only artifacts generated as a result of his murder: Two photos and a few documents are all I’ve been able to scrape together in all these years. It’s hard to bring to life on a two-dimensional surface someone who has been gone so long and that I personally knew so little about. How do I add the dimension of depth? How can I make Lonzy real again? How can I bring him to life on the page?

In the summer of 2018 I completed two writing classes at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Nonfiction and Digital Nonfiction. I took what I learned from these classes and created a new narrative of Lonzy’s story. I’ve attempted to represent him using photos and images from the world in which he lived. I’ve also aspired to express who he was in a sensory way by telling his story with not only text, but also music, spoken word audio, and video.

1963 Texaco New Orleans Street and Vacinity Map
I attempt to represent Lonzy’s world with artifacts, such as this vintage 1963 New Orleans street and vicinity map by Texaco.

A short narrative of Lonzy’s life

The landing page. of this website offers a narrative of Lonzy’s story: from his childhood in Dossville, Mississippi, to his life as a young man in Fort Worth and New Orleans, to the tragic and violent ending he met in Audubon Park. While the narrative relates Lonzy’s story in a linear way, it’s broken down into the following eight sections:

Half Moon Bar and Restaurant
Another artifact. A photo of Half Moon Bar, one of the last places Lonzy was seen alive on August 16, 1963. Located in the Lower Garden District, unlike Lonzy the Half Moon Bar is still alive and kicking. Photo attribution: Joseph, Half Moon Bar and Restaurant Sign CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

1. Prelude: This section gives background information on Lonzy’s childhood. It touches on his life as a young man and then it ends with the day of the murder.

2. Evening: This section focuses on the evening of August 16, 1963.

3. Nightfall: Lonzy was murdered either late August 16th or early August 17th. This is the focus of this section.

4. Murder: Here I attempt to highlight what I know about the actual murder.

5. Daybreak: Lonzy’s body was discovered at about 6:15am on August 17, 1963. This section begins with the discovery of his body.

6. Aftermath: There were many aftereffects of Lonzy’s murder. I attempt to share as much as I can know about this in this section.

7. Epilogue: My thoughts on the original investigation and a final reflection on Lonzy.

8. Track: If you’re interested in digging deeper, this section is where I invite you to help me track a killer.

Website metadata:

First published August 30, 2004
Latest updated: August 17, 2018
Author: Rhonda L Thomas
Created with: WordPress, HTML5, CSS
Tags: Murder, Crime,

Image attribution: Unless otherwise noted, all images used on this website are the property of the author.

Music attribution: Music used on this site courtesy of Thomas Standridge Music. Music composed by Russ Garfield Thomas. Vocals by Rhonda L Thomas and Russ Garfield Thomas.

Playlist

1. And The Trees Stopped Laughing

2. Time And Distance

3. Scenes From A Hall

4. Burning Bridges

5. Steps Of The Stalker

6. Miracle Of Birth

7. Wrinkles In Time

8. Voices Forgotten