Grace Wade (who sometimes used the name Grace Reeves) was shot and killed in her home on August 13, 1974, election day. There were several people at the house the night of the murder. Gary Reeves, the father of her youngest child, was arrested later that night at his parent's house. Gary's gun was turned in to the authorities. Three bullets were recovered, but they were not from Gary's gun. Gary's gun was fully loaded and perfectly clean. The authorities did not conduct a paraffin test, nor did they check out the gun, and there was no ballistic report. At the time of his arrest, his mental and physical abilities were paralyzed. The arresting officer who had helped Gary to the car, said that he was not drunk, but that he seemed to be groggy and his movements were slow. Gary says, "Someone in the house had drugged me. Later in time, I found out that they had used Quaaludes. "
He was assigned a court-appointed lawyer, William Buffington, who was intoxicated every time that Gary saw him. When Mr. Buffington visited Gary in jail, the sheriff forced him to leave because he was drunk.
Gary's hearing was held on January 28, 1975, in the court of Judge Robert Royal. Mr. Buffington had never visited the crime scene, and he had never questioned any of the other people who were at the house the night that Grace was murdered. The trial was like a whirlwind, the jury was selected, and a verdict was given in a five-hour time span of 5 hours that included a lunch break. No murder weapon was found or introduced at the trial, and according to the testimony of Dr. Craig Fosse, pathologist, no autopsy was performed because all the bullets were found and turned in to the police department. Curiously, the robe on Grace's body had no bullet holes in it although, according to court documents, she died from multiple bullet wounds to the hand, head, chest, and abdomen, yet her clothing escaped damage from bullets entering or exiting. Her body had been moved for pictures at the scene.
The testimonies of Ms. Reeves two daughters, as the only witnesses called to the trial, were inconsistent with the testimonies given at the preliminary hearing. None of the other witnesses to the crime were questioned. On January 28, 1975, Gary Reeves was convicted and given a life sentence.
The night of that nightmare, and the short trial, remained a mystery to Gary for a long time. He was placed into custody at Milledgeville Georgia State Hospital, where they drugged him and deemed him insane because he was not able to remember killing Grace. At his trial, testimony by police indicated that Gary signed a Waiver of Rights the night he was arrested. Gary says, "I don't remember signing this Miranda warning. No mentally coherent being would sign something stripping himself of innocent protection."
Two months after the trial, Grace's daughter, Beverly, went to Lynn Garner, the Floyd county sheriff and confessed she had lied at the trial when she testified she had seen Gary kill her mother. They taped her confession, but Gary's case was not re-opened. Instead, the next day the court had Gary moved to Jackson State Prison. Then a few weeks later, to Reidsville. A year later, he was moved to Carroll County.
In April of 1975, a new lawyer accepted Gary's case for a re-trial. He filed his motion on grounds of perjury by Beverly. They now had taped evidence. A conviction of perjury would give a just cause for Gary's re-trial. The same judge denied this motion contending that Beverly's sister, Charlotte, had testified and her testimony upheld the judgment against Gary. At the preliminary hearing, Charlotte had stated she did not see or hear anything. Beverly verified this in her taped testimony. Charlotte's testimony at the preliminary hearing was different than her testimony at the trial.
After the new lawyer spoke with the District Attorney and the Judge, he decided not to fight Gary's case. The District Attorney and the judge soon after endorsed the lawyer for judge in another county. The former lawyer now holds the position of judge in that county.
In September 1976, Beverly Minshew, Grace's daughter, was jailed in Jonesboro, Georgia for various charges. While there, she signed a written confession, witnessed by a Lieutenant with the Clayton County Sheriff's Office. According to her confession, she had shot and killed her mother because she was jealous of her mother's friendship with a man that she (Beverly) was dating. The authorities had Beverly take a polygraph test with a reputable polygraph service. According to the test's results, she was telling the truth.
Gary then had perjury warrants taken out on both daughters, Beverly and Charlotte. They were arrested, but once again Floyd county molded justice to fit the case. Beverly was told she would be given life in prison if she pleaded guilty to perjury. The charges were then changed from perjury to false swearing. Beverly pleaded guilty in the Judge's chambers. She went to prison for less than one year. Charlotte's charges were completely dropped. Gary and his family believed that a guilty verdict against them would have resulted in a new trial for Gary and that Gary would be exonerated and freed. They were wrong. False swearing was a lesser crime than perjury. There was no new trial. Nothing was done for Gary.
Another lawyer accepted Gary Reeves case in 1976, and on his behalf, filed a second extra-ordinary motion. But again, the Judge denied a new trial. He would not accept the polygraph test, the taped confession, nor the written confession, but instead, based his decision only on the testimony of Charlotte (which conflicted with her testimony at the preliminary hearing).
Beverly told authorities she would give them the full story of her mother's murder if they would give her protection. Beverly's request was not granted. Instead, she was told she would receive the death penalty if she was convicted.
After Beverly's confession, all of the Rome City Police reports, investigation records and pictures of the crime scene from the night of August 13, 1974 completely disappeared. Crime evidence had just "slipped" through the cracks of justice in Floyd county.
Gary's memory began to open up in 1977 and parts of the tragedy began to filter back. Gary says, "I was serving a life sentence for something that I did not do. Clearing my name, and finding the whole truth, was the promise I made to myself during the hell filled days that I spent in prison. In 1981 I was paroled. Immediately following my release from prison, I began to search for evidence to clear my name. "
When Gary's nine years of parole were complete, he was given back his full citizen's rights. Gary says, "I had a clear record before this conviction and had been on perfect behavior during my confinement. But still, across my shoulders was the weight of being cast as a murderer. My sister, Beatrice Purdy, never gave up on trying to find the key evidence that would clear my name while I was in prison. Once I was paroled, armed with pieces of information she had gathered, we began to search for more evidence and information. The one piece of hope we were clinging to was a confession Beverly had made to Beatrice regarding the murder of her mother. Around March of 1976, Beverly had told her that she (Beverly) had shot her mother, Grace, on the evening of August 13, 1974. Since no murder weapon had been found, Beatrice asked Beverly what she had done with the gun. Beverly's exact words were: ' We buried the gun With Mama,'"
Gary began to petition for the exhumation of Grace's body, but to no avail. He could not convince the authorities that there was a possibility that the murder weapon could be in the casket. But soon, more information came to the surface that gave strength to this possibility: The news reached Magdalene Culberson, an acquaintance of Grace, that a weapon might be buried in the casket. Magdalene remembered something that something had puzzled her when she had attended Grace's funeral service. The attendance had been very small that day, so there was no one blocking her sight as the body was being viewed by the family. Charlotte, Grace's daughter, began to grieve hysterically after passing the casket. Charlotte fell to the floor, and everyone's attention was diverted to Charlotte. Then Magdalene saw Grace's husband, Doyle Wade (one of the witnesses that was never questioned), go to the casket and lean over it. He lifted Grace's body slightly as if to kiss her good-bye. While others consoled the daughter, Magdalene saw Doyle Wade take a small brown bag from his pocket and put it in the casket. His hand was empty when he reached up to brush a tear from his eye. Glancing around the chapel, Wade made eye contact with Magdalene as she sat watching him. She wondered then what could be so important between him and Grace that he felt it should be buried forever.
Gary got a signed affidavit from Magdalene Culberson in 1995, and then tried to get the approval for the exhumation of Grace's body. But it was not until July of 1997 that Rome's district attorney, Tami Colston, made the decision to investigate. After two decades of persistence, Gary was finally getting someone in the system to listen.
But who did they listen to? On the day Grace Reeves body was exhumed, Gary was not even notified until after it was completed and she was laid back to rest. Gary says "I was visiting another city. I was told the news on a cell phone."
According to Tami Colston, all that was found in the exhumation was an empty brown paper bag, twisted up, and the grave's vault was filled with water. Records state the paper bag was too deteriorated to even try to open but it held no metal pieces. No weapon.
But does it not bring more pieces to this puzzle? Why was there a brown paper bag in this casket at all? How did a sealed vault get filled with water? These puzzling bits of information did not mystify district attorney Tami Colston. She felt purged of anymore responsibility to investigate. "This ends the case as far as I'm concerned". She said, "I hope Mrs. Reeves' family can now have some peace".
"But what of my family? Do they not deserve peace? My dad, Mr. Herschel S. Reeves, died while I was in prison. He died fighting for my right to a re-trial. Where was his peace?" said Gary.
Tami Colston states, "It will take a minor miracle to get this case re-opened". A new eyewitness or a weapon. But the weapon would be hard to prove since investigators failed to take paraffin or ballistic tests on the bullets that were found at the scene. In any circumstance, there would be nothing to compare it to. All of the county's evidence is still missing. According to Ms. Colston, it just got lost over the past 25 years.
Gary has spent the past 25 years trying to clear the shadows away by finding the truth. After confessing that she had killed her mother, Beverly went to jail for her false statement charge. Since testifying against Gary in her mother's murder trial, a few years later Charlotte was a prime witness against a man who hired her husband, Bobby Salmon (one of the witnesses to Grace's murder who was never questioned) for a "contract murder." Bobby's landlord hired him to kill his stepson for insurance money. The landlord's stepson was shot to death. At his autopsy, his system was found to be full of the drug quaaludes. This is the same "Bo" Salmon who was asleep on the couch, at Gary Reeves small house the night Grace was murdered. Bobby is now serving a life sentence at Autry Correctional Institute for this murder.
"I was drugged with quaaludes the night Grace was murdered," says Gary. "Bo claims to have slept through six bullets going off in the next room. He said he never heard anything; but years later he was convicted of a similar murder!"
"I have placed a $10,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Grace's killer," said Gary. "The case could get a re-trial if it was reopened. An eyewitness or some very strong information could do this. I hope that somewhere a door will be opened for me and for my quest for justice."
Twenty-five years in which me and my family have never ceased to fight for my right to a clear name. I have my freedom now, and after two decades of failure to get any break-through, many folks feel I should let it rest and admit defeat. But my heart will not let me stop. I am innocent."
Gary made a written Freedom of Information Act request to the Rome City Police Department on September 29, 1999. Click here to read Gary's Freedom of Information Act Request. Several local newspapers carried the story in 1996 and 1997 after Magdalene Culberson signed the affidavit in 1995. A search warrant was issued by a Floyd County Superior Court Judge for the exhumation of Grace's body in 1997. Rome City authorities took a videotape of the exhumation of Grace's body. Although Gary had requested that the body be exhumed, he had not been informed when the exhumation was scheduled; therefore he had no representative there, no impartial party.
Gary received a phone call from the police department after he wrote the 1999 letter. The police representative asked Gary for the phone number of Grace's daughter, Beverly to question her. Gary provided contact information, then the police department called Beverly in to sign a paper forbidding Gary or his representative to view the tape. There has been no written response to Gary's request as is required by law.
Click to return to our main page Bobby is now serving a life sentence at Autry Correctional Institute for a "contract murder".