Published: Nov. 22, 2021
By: Claire Sullivan and Eternity Honore, LSU Manship School News Service
Six decades after a Louisiana man’s disappearance and presumed murder, his family is still looking for answers and a body to bury.
Carl Ray Thompson, then 26, spotted his cousin’s two-toned Buick on the side of the Ferriday-Vidalia highway as he sat in the back of a sheriff’s car in July 1964.
His cousin, Joseph “Joe-Ed” Edwards, had gone missing just a couple days prior, his family left with only rumors as to his whereabouts.
Thompson had spent a night sitting in a Ferriday jail cell for a robbery he did not participate in, listening as sheriff’s deputies beat three or four other young Black men arrested for the crime. As the night dragged on, Thompson felt his turn for a beating coming. But morning came, and the arrival of the regular office staff spared him the brutality the deputies reserved for the privacy of night.
As deputy Frank DeLaughter drove the men to the parish jail in Vidalia that morning, he pointed out the green-white Buick, belonging to Edwards, on the side of the highway.
DeLaughter, 6 feet 4 inches and 280 pounds, peered at Thompson through his rearview mirror. He told the men that if any of them spoke about what happened the night before, they would meet the same fate as Edwards.
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