"Just Joe-Jacking Around"
The road from Poplarville to Lumberton wound through broad pine groves that covered the rolling hills of southern Mississippi with a thick green shroud. Interspersed among the miles of pines, tung trees thrived in the rich soil and helped make this section of the state one of the prettiest, and one of the more remote. Jimmy Walters, his wife, June, and their four-year-old daughter, Debbie Carol, were driving along an isolated stretch of Highway 11 toward their home in Petal outside of Hattiesburg on the evening of February 23, 1959. The night sky was dark; thick clouds obscured the moon; and the sharp wind whistling through the pines down onto the lonely road threatened to bring rain. The Walters had spent the evening at the Bogalusa home of Jimmy's brother Eddie, visiting Eddie's sick daughter. The evening ended sourly when Eddie refused to let Jimmy take his other daughter back to Hattiesburg to spend several days with her grandmother. Eddie protested he didn't feel like making the sixty-five-mile drive to pick her up, which angered Jimmy, and the two brothers had almost begun fighting. Besides that, Jimmy, who had picked up his family after work and come directly to Bogalusa, was tired from the long day and knew he had to be back at work early the next morning. 1
As the wind began to drive sleet across the windshield of their