on May 7, 2012
Written by renowned investigative journalist Charles Postell, this book was the result of 10 years of interviews with mass murderer Carl Junior Isaacs. While a reporter for The Albany Herald, Postell heard of the murders while driving to his office at the newspaper. The police scanner mounted on the dash of his car announced the murders and Postell immediately changed directions, heading towards Donalsonville, Georgia an hour and a half away. Arriving at the residence of Mary and Jerry Alday, a small mobile home in which they'd recently set up house, Postell parked and began taking photographs, which would accompany his articles in The Albany Herald the next day, and later be included in DEAD MAN COMING.
The Alday couple, along with 4 other Alday family members, had been slain the previoius day - May 14, 1973 - found by a relative the following morning not long before Postell drove up behind Sheriff Dan White and a hearse. The bodies remained in the trailer at that time.
The bodies of Ned Alday, the patriarch of the well-respected Donalsonville farm family; his brother Aubrey "Shuggie" Alday; and his two sons, Jerry, and the youngest Jimmy, were all found shot in the home. Mary Alday's body was later found nearby in a wooded area, naked and shot in the back lying face down in an ant bed.
The perpetrators were quickly apprehended and identified as 4 escaped convicts from Baltimore, Maryland. Carl Isaacs, 19, his younger brother Billy Isaacs, 15, their older half brother Wayne Carl Coleman, and a friend of Coleman's, George Dungee, had banded together after escaping from facilities where they were being held for petty crimes. They decided to set off on a crime spree, which began with stealing a car which they drove into Pennsylvania - claiming their first victim, Richard Miller, an 18-year-old who had caught them trying to steal a friend's vehicle.
Heading down to Florida in Miller's car for what they hoped would be a fun-filled holiday, they met with folly at every turn - botched robberies and no money, in-fighting and bad luck. Heading home, they chose a route that would fatefully lead them up the backroads of Southwest Georgia where they spotted the Alday trailer sitting on a lonely country road set back in a corn field. Intending to plunder the residence for valuables, they were caught off guard by Alday members who had spotted the unfamiliar car and pulled up to investigate.
The recounting of what Jimmy Carter called "the most heinous crime in Georgia's history," is done with a blunt, disturbing style born from painstaking interviews of Isaacs providing Postell with the most grisly, and often unbearable details of the victims in their last moments.
The backstory of Isaacs' childhood is woven in masterfully with the murders, juxtaposing the lives of the killers and the victims in a striking fashion that leaves the reader oddly taken aback.
This book was published at a time when crime wasn't the entertainment industry it is today; the subject matter was still taboo to a public unaccustomed to crimes of such cold-blooded violence. Other than the Manson Murders in 1969, the country had not experienced mass murders with the same frequency that today seem commonplace.
Author Postell was met with conflicted responses, with the Alday family feeling betrayed by having to relive their family's tragedy in such a horrifying, often vulgar, way. The book was a hugely popular read among Georgians, and continues to garner interest even after 30+ years.
All 4 of the killers are now deceased. Carl Isaacs, the only one to have remained on death row, was executed in May 2003 - almost 30 years to the day of the murders. He still maintains the record for longest stay on death row. His younger brother Billy was released, started a church, but died not long after his brother's execution. Wayne Coleman and George Dungee, whose sentences had been commuted to life, both died in prison of natural causes.