The anniversary of the biggest and most amazing murder case the history of Henry County, maybe in the state of Georgia, has come and gone unnoticed in November 2011. It has been 37 years since the murders of Marvin King a high school teacher and Miss Melanie Ann Hartsfield a 19-year-old student, both from Clayton County, Georgia. They were in school that morning but were murdered in the woods of Henry County at 2:30 p.m. on November 7, 1974.
“Why is this important? Why would anyone want to relive this event? Why would anyone bring this up after so many years? After all, these people are dead and everyone knows what happened.” These are the questions people have been asking me for years.
For me, these people have never been forgotten and it is my responsibility to share this with you and ask for your help. There are past events that must be recognized and dealt with accordingly.
On November 7, 1974, while rabbit hunting, Jerry Banks, a young black man discovered the bodies of Marvin King and Miss Hartsfield in a wooded area off of Rock Quarry Road. Jerry Banks, 23 years-old, flagged down a passing driver and asked him to call the police.
Jerry Banks was arrested on December 11, 1974 creating major news. I, a 26 year-old white man living in Clayton County could not believe what I was hearing from the radio.
Even though I did not know Jerry Banks, I cried out loud, “My God, he is innocent and he is being framed.”
By January 31, 1975 Jerry Banks had been sentenced to die in the electric chair in Reedsville state prison in South Georgia.
Within 12 months of the murders, Jerry Banks received a second trial on November 17, 1975. He was again sentenced to die in Georgia’s electric chair. Jerry Banks was sent to Georgia’s State Prison in Jackson, Georgia, where he lived until December, 22, 1980.
I have lived for over 30 years with the knowledge in my heart and mind that Jerry Banks did not kill King and Hartsfield. For many years I was too afraid to step out into the open and begin asking question about this murder.
I recently talked to members from both of the victim’s families. I informed them that I have written a book about this case. I asked Melanie’s brother how he felt about this case then and more importantly, now. “My mother and father, who are now in their 70s, cannot talk about Melanie’s brutal murder and, to this day, it is their understanding that Jerry Banks was guilty.”
There are several things I can say with absolute certainty: Jerry Banks was not the killer. Jerry Banks was framed by several people to take the blame for others from Henry County, Georgia.
The more I investigated this case, the more questions surfaced. Questions like, if Jerry Banks did not murder these two victims, then who did?
If Jerry Banks was truly guilty, why was there a law suit filed against Sheriff Jimmy Glass and five of his officers for withholding evidence which could have proven Jerry Banks was innocent?
If, after Jerry’s death, his mother filed this $12 million suit using one of the best lawyers in the United States who came to McDonough to represent her … she walked away with only $150,000 to care for Jerry’s three small children. What happened when she had the best lawyer in Georgia and one of the best in the country? Did win the case or lose the case?
When the defendants were allowed to remain on the job, retire from the county, and still walk the streets of Henry County today, did she win the law suit or lose it?
Who did murder Marvin King and Miss Hartsfield? And why were they murdered?
In my up coming book “Sins of Henry County” and you will be able to answer all of these questions and more …The one question that will never be answered without a public out cry is, why are the guilty people still walking the streets of Henry County, Georgia?
By, Charles Sargent
If you have ant information about this case contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org