Massacres/Mass Murder · Mississippi

Man kills 7 members of his family including wife and child

February 18, 1974
Jefferson County, Mississippi
Frankie Lee Lias kills seven family members including his wife and their child

Lias, 20 at the time of the murders, had fallen from a bicycle ten years before and struck his head. Since that time, he often remarked to friends and family members he received visions from God.

Late on the evening of February 17 or early in the morning of the 18th, Lias acted upon a vision which he claimed was “a Biblical voice” instructing him to kill his family. He shot and killed his wife Carol (18), her mother and stepfather, his teenaged niece and nephew, and his 11-month-old daughter Kenyatta. He also shot his 4-year-old nephew who survived the scene but died in the hospital, and wounded his 19-year-old sister-in-law.

The prosecution suggested at court the murders were an act of revenge, with Lias believing his wife had been unfaithful and their child was fathered by another man. Lias was found guilty and sentenced to life, though his attorney attempted to override the conviction based on Lias’ diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia around a month after the murders, hoping for Lias to be confined to a mental facility for treatments instead. The courts upheld the original conviction. Lias is still currently incarcerated.

The slain victims were:

  • Kenyatta Lias (11 months)
  • Lenny Ross (4)
  • Dennis Williams (16)
  • Toni Ross (17)
  • Carol Lee Lias (18)
  • Leo McDonald (37)
  • Jimmie Ross Williams (39)

Sources:
362 So. 2d 198 (1978). Frankie Lee LIAS v. STATE of Mississippi. No. 50444. Supreme Court of Mississippi. August 23, 1978. https://law.justia.com/cases/mississippi/supreme-court/1978/50444-0.html
“Court Upholds Murder Conviction Despite Sanity Questions.” Clarion-Ledger [Jackson, Mississippi]. August 24, 1978
“Judge directs Lias to be returned to Whitfield.” Hattiesburg American. February 14, 1975
“Man Kills Wife, 5 Others on ‘Orders’.” The Republic [Columbus, Indiana]. February 18, 1974
“Youth Held For 7 Slayings Had ‘Visions’.” Des Moines Tribune. February 19, 1974

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