Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nightrider and Lady Sundown: The Bonnie and Clyde of Georgia

Boney and Claude

Judith Ann Neelley would acquire a range of monikers, pseudonyms and nicknames over her life, as recounted by Frasier.   Referred to variously as Judith Adams (her maiden name), her CB handles, Lady of Sundown or Lady Goodyear, and the Bride of Frankenstein, she was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1964.  Her father, a construction worker and moderate alcoholic, died in an accident when she was nine.  Conditions at home deteriorated and according to Frasier, Judiths mother was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a teenage boy.  Even without that charge, the woman was apparently solidly promiscuous, thinking nothing of having her male companions come to her in the familys trailer. 

Alvin Neelley
Alvin Neelley
When she was fifteen, Judith met Alvin Neelley, twelve years older than her (Cook variously indicates eleven and fourteen years older), and described as larger than most football players.   He was pudgy and overweight, but apparently had a face that people called sweet.  The impression he gave to Detective Kines when they finally met, according to Cook, was that he was a wimpa pathetic character if there ever was one.  Yet it was always easy for Alvin to pick up girls.  Born in Georgia, he was a car thief with a friendly demeanor who was more than happy to give Judith a way out of her situation at home.  Their chemistry was instantaneous and neither could imagine life without the other.  But Alvin was married.  He decided to get a divorce from a woman who was more than happy to see him go, and Alvin and Judith quickly eloped in Georgia in 1980. 

Judith moved easily with Alvin into his life of two-bit crimes.  They were constantly on the move, robbing convenience stores and gas stations from Georgia to Texas to finance their transient lifestyle.  As they came into the Riverbend Mall parking lot in Rome, Georgia, they finally made a mistake.  In 1980, they robbed a woman at gunpoint.  Soon they were caught trying to cash stolen checks and were arrested.  Alvin, with outstanding warrants in several states, went to prison, sentenced to five years, and Judith ended up at Romes Youth Development Center.  She was pregnant at the time and gave birth to twins.  She was then transferred to another facility in Macon, Georgia

Judith wrote frequently to Alvin, telling him how much she detested the staff at the YDC and claming that they had sexually abused her.   Whether she was just looking for attention is anyones guess, although all of her allegations have been denied and police found no evidence to support them.  Still, she managed to get Alvin feeling vengeful over these alleged incidents, and she herself burned with anger about them.

Judith was released toward the end of 1981 and having nowhere else to go, she moved in with Alvins parents in Tennessee to await his release.  Yet she returned to her old ways, robbing another convenience store, and was arrested again.  Alvins parents helped to care for the twins.

Within six months, Alvin had been granted early release, so they grabbed their children and picked up where they had left off, except that Alvin now had a score to settle with the staff at the Rome YDC.  When they were ready, they would act.  First, they needed money.  They learned how to steal checks from post offices and use the signatures to forge money orders, which became their primary means of supporting their transient lifestyle.  To keep track of one another, they installed CB radios in their respective cars.   Alvin became the Nightrider and Judith Lady Sundown.  Newton says they gave themselves the nicknames Boney and Claude as a joke about their resemblance to the roving, bank-robbing outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, while Frasier contends that it was the police who did so.  From a hotel, they attempted to lure a woman for an interesting sexual escapade, but she failed to show up.  Nevertheless, they were clearly creating fantasies together at this stage that would fuel their more serious crimes.

In September 1982, they found themselves in Rome, GA and decided to launch an all-out attack.

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