An Undying Mystery: George Stinney
In 1944, George Stinney Jr. became the youngest person ever executed in South Carolina at age 14. He was accused of bludgeoning two white girls to death and convicted by an all-white jury in a matter of minutes. Now, more than 70 years later, new evidence suggests someone else may have committed the murders. The Post and Courier explores this haunting tale that still plagues the small town of Alcolu.
A chance encounter in 1944 brings 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. into brief contact with two white girls. It seems so innocuous. Yet, an enduring mystery is born in the moments the girls walk away.
At 7:30 a.m. on June 16, 1944, inmate No. 260, dressed in a loose-fitting striped jumpsuit, was escorted to the little brick death house at the state penitentiary in Columbia, a Bible tucked under his arm.
Attorneys fighting to overturn George Stinney Jr.’s 70-year-old murder conviction knew that time and legal precedent worked against them in what seemed like a hopelessly cold case.
Attorney Matt Burgess clutched the judge’s order in his hand, a phone pressed to his ear, as he waited for Amie Ruffner to pick up the call some 600 miles away.
Shortly before a judge threw out George Stinney Jr.'s murder conviction, several men gathered along a four-lane highway that cuts through Alcolu. Their mission: Install a memorial to George in the form of a tombstone planted in a black man's front yard.