Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Martinsville Seven

Don't Tear My Clothes Off!

The men then began to fight among themselves again. During this time, Mrs. Floyd managed to get to her feet and scramble out of the woods. She noticed a black woman walking by on the road past the tracks and pleaded for help. "I threw my arms around the colored woman," she later testified, "and asked her to please help me and please have mercy on me. She snatched her hands away and said 'Don't tear my clothes off!' Then these colored men just wrung my hands loose from this colored woman and then they drug me back into the woods."

James Luther Hairston
James Luther Hairston

Around 6:00 p.m., three other men arrived. They were Martinsville residents James Luther Hairston, 20, a furniture builder, John Taylor, 21, a tobacco warehouse worker, and Francis DeSales Grayson, 37, a World War II veteran. They came upon the other four, who were again attacking Mrs. Floyd. "When we got there," James Hairston later said to police, "Booker T. Millner was on the woman...After he got off her, Frank Hairston Jr. went to her. Howard Hairston was the next to go to her. When Howard finished, DeSales Grayson went to her. I was the next." John Taylor was the last one of the group to attack the victim. After the assault, which spanned a period of nearly two hours, the men drifted away.

John Clabon Taylor
John Clabon Taylor

"I left and went on over to Miss Matthew's place," Millner later told the court, "Before I got there Frank and Joe caught up with me. I got over to Miss Matthew's place and I told Frank 'I'm going over to Cherry town.' Just like that."

Francis DeSales Grayson
Francis DeSales Grayson

By that time, it was already dark. Mrs. Floyd, severely injured and bleeding from her face, knees and back wounds, pulled herself to her feet. She retrieved what clothes she could find and hobbled away from the tracks. "I was, I couldn't hardly walk," Mrs. Floyd later said, "I was paralyzed from the hips down." She walked along the road less than a quarter of a mile until she came to a house with a light in the window. The home was occupied by Mary Wade, a black housewife and her husband, Jesse. Mrs. Floyd knocked on the door until it opened.

"I was just raped!" she cried.

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