The Martinsville Seven
"The Woman's Got Some Pretty Legs!"
"We were sitting there drinking the wine when the woman walked up and spoke and asked where Ruth Pettie lived," Frank Hairston said in court. Mrs. Floyd asked the men if they knew Ruth Pettie's house and Booker Millner pointed out the way. "I said 'Yes maam, she lives in the second house on the right side of the road," Millner later testified. When she left, Joe Henry Hampton made a comment to the others that the white woman "looked good enough to hug." Hampton, who later admitted that he was drunk, watched Mrs. Floyd walk away. A few minutes passed when Mrs. Floyd returned and walked by the group of men. Hampton made another remark to his friends. "The woman walked maybe four or five or six or eight or ten steps from us," Frank Hairston later said, "and Joe said 'That woman's sure got some pretty legs!" With that, Hampton got up and began to follow Mrs. Floyd. "Wait honey!" he called out to her. "Joe got up," Hairston testified, "and walked up the track to the woman and put his arm around her, going around the curve." According to court testimony, some of the other men tried to stop Hampton, but he was the drunkest of the group and continued to walk with Mrs. Floyd.
A short distance away from where the men had been drinking, Hampton caught up with Ruby Floyd and grabbed her. According to Hampton's statement to police, he, Howard Hairston, Frank Hairston and Booker Millner forced Mrs. Floyd into a wooded area near the tracks and onto the ground. They argued over who would have her first. "The boys were carrying on so trying to see who would be the first," Hampton later confessed to police, "they got into a little scrap. Me and some of the other boys made her walk down the ridge...We took the lady down the ridge about 40 or 50 yards in the woods." When they reached an area where the men felt safe and no one could see from the road, the rapes began.
The first one to sexually assault Mrs. Floyd was Joe Hampton, although he denied it during later testimony. "I was the third one," he told the court. But Mrs. Floyd identified Hampton as the initial attacker during the trial. "He helped pull my clothes off and he was the first one," she said. The four men took turns holding the victim down and raping her. They held her legs apart and slapped her face. "I was crying and telling them to turn me loose, fighting back on them, trying to kick them," she later told the court, "They were holding my legs, saying 'Don't you holler! Don't you say nothing!' Had their hands over my mouth and they hit me in the face...and told me to hush and be quiet. And they were all the time, one was on me and then the other one on me and then another and I was trying to get up. Every time I did they'd slam me back on the ground!" The attacks continued until all four Hampton, Millner, Frank and Howard Hairston had sexual intercourse with Mrs. Floyd.