Hey, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! I’m Aeryn and I’m so glad you could join me for today’s True Crime Friday episode.
Today I’m going to tell y’all about Eugene Carmichael O’Boyle from Columbia, South Carolina. His dad and brother have been waiting for answers in his murder for over forty years and I am praying that someone will come forward with those answers. If you think you may know something, I will put the police department’s phone number in the description.
Mike was a junior at the University of South Carolina when he went missing on May 27, 1981 around 11:30am. He was last seen leaving C&S National Bank in Richland County on Two Notch Road. If you’re wondering why the bank sounds familiar, the women I told you about on Monday both worked at the C&S National Bank in Atlanta. This was an odd coincidence I just couldn’t ignore.
Mike’s Volkswagen Dasher was found engulfed in flames near the corner of Parklane and Farrow Roads on May 29, 1981 by a highway patrolman. Mike was not inside.
Six months past with no one hearing from or seeing Mike. Then his skeletal remains were found in a wooded area two miles away from where the car was found on Rabon Road.
Investigator Robert Martin says an eyewitness claims that he or she saw three men in Mike’s car driving to the area where it was set on fire.
That’s the only lead investigators have ever gotten and this case is so cold that it has icicles hanging off it. The only thing I could find on this case was an article from September 2, 2011. That’s really sad, y’all.
If you think you know something about Mike’s murder, please call the Columbia Police Department at 803-749-5836. I’ll put the phone number in the description in case you missed it.
I believe that Mike’s murder can be solved and I’m going to tell y’all why.
On Thursday, February 3rd of 1972, there was a howling snowstorm in Boone, North Carolina. Bryce Durham, his wife Virginia, and his son, Bobby Joe, had only lived in town about eighteen months but Bryce had just opened his own car dealership.
He went to a Rotary Club meeting at the Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock where Green Berets were going to do a demonstration. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing 40mph so only a dozen members showed up.
When they left, a member followed Bryce to his dealership on East King Street. He said Bryce arrived around 8:30pm to pick Virginia and Bobby Joe up. Investigators believe Bryce and Virginia asked their eighteen-year-old son to meet them there because of the road conditions. Bobby Joe was a student at Appalachian State University.
A four-wheel-drive Jimmy had just arrived at the dealership that day so Bryce asked an employee to put gas in it so he could borrow it for the night. The family lived on a steep, dead-end road off the N.C.105 Bypass and their car wouldn’t have made it in the horrendous weather conditions.
Several neighbors saw the Jimmy go up the hill around 9pm. They said that they remembered because the nine o’clock news was coming on.
According to investigators, it appeared that the family were eating a snack when they were surprised by intruders.
The couple’s daughter, Ginny Hall, and their son-in-law, Troy, lived in a trailer about four miles away. Both were students at Appalachian State University. Troy had told Ginny that he was at the ASU library studying and didn’t get home until 10pm. They watched the Winter Olympics for ten to fifteen minutes when the TV quit working and then they put a record on to listen to music.
That’s when the couple’s phone rang and Troy answered it. It was Virginia, his mother-in-law. She was whispering, but he thought she said three black men had broken in and they were beating Bryce and Bobby Joe in a back room before the line went dead. He tried to call her back, but the line was busy.
He told Ginny and they ran out to his truck, but it wouldn’t start. Troy asked their neighbor, Cecil Small, for a ride over to the Durham’s house. Cecil was a private investigator and he agreed to drive the couple over there. Ginny waited in the car while Troy and Cecil went into her parent’s split-level home.
The lights were on inside, the house had been torn apart, and the phone was ripped from the wall.
The men followed the sound of running water to a bathroom where they found all three family members dead. Autopsy reports would show that Virginia had died of strangulation while Bryce and Bobby Joe were strangled and drowned. Bryce had a cord tied loosely around his neck.
Troy and Cecil went to a neighbor’s house and called police. When they arrived, police found Bryce, Virginia, and Bobby Joe across the lip of the bathtub. The water was running and flowing through the overflow drain.
The four-wheel-drive Jimmy the Durham’s had borrowed that evening was missing. It was found a mile away on Poplar Grove Road with the engine running, the windshield wipers going, and the lights on. They found the Durham’s silverware in a pillowcase in the car. A bank deposit bag and other valuables had been left behind at the house, so police questioned whether the motive really was robbery.
In 1982, Wade Carroll, who is now deceased, told the Winston-Salem Journal that he believed the phone call never happened.
“In my opinion, Mrs. Durham never made that phone call,” he said. “When some people come into your house to kill you, they are not going to let you make a phone call.”
The retired SBI agent, Charlie Whitman did believe Troy and Ginny and said the couple cooperated in the investigation through the years. Ginny even agreed to be put under hypnosis and spoke of the phone conversation between her husband and mother.
Fast forward fifty years to February 9, 2022.
Billy Wayne Davis, 81-years old, has been serving time at the Augusta Medical State Prison in Augusta, Georgia.
Police say that he recently admitted that he and three other men broke into the Durham’s home and murdered the family that night. Davis is the only surviving perpetrator. Billy Sunday Birt, Bobby Gene Gaddis, and Charles David Reed have all passed away.
“In May 2019, we received a phone call from the White County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia about information that we recognized could be very important to the Durham case,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman. “We immediately began to investigate the new leads, and conducted in-person interviews with Billy Wayne Davis in September 2019, October 2020, and August 2021. It was these interviews that ultimately helped us determine who was responsible through the corroboration of evidence. We are confident that we now know who committed these crimes.”
Davis is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 1973 Fleming case, a case that is eerily similar to the Durham’s. Birt lead Davis, Gaddis, and Reed in the Georgia branch of a Southern organized crime group that was active in the 1960s and 70s called the Dixie Mafia.
The first lead came in 2019 when Billy Birt’s son, Shane, was at the White County Sheriff’s Office doing research for a book he was writing about crimes that had taken place in Georgia, including the Fleming case. Shane shared that he was very close with his father and told a story his father had shared with him where he and three other men had killed a family in the North Carolina mountains during a snowstorm. He said that his father remembered that they had almost gotten caught.
Davis was interviewed at the Georgia detention center where he is serving a life sentence for crimes he committed in Georgia. He admitted to the four men’s involvement but said he was just the getaway driver and never entered the Durham’s home that night.
Cold cases like this are being solved every day thanks to people coming forward, DNA evidence, and advancements in forensic science. This is why I believe Mike’s case can be solved, it just needs to be heated up and possibly looked at from a different perspective. At least that’s my hope.
Thank y’all so much for listening to today’s episode. I will be adding a bonus episode today because one of the first cases I told y’all about has had new information released recently. So, be on the lookout for Bonus: Where is Sara Nicole Graham?
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Goodpods and check out our website at www.southern-macabre.com. Come back on Monday when I’ll tell y’all about a young woman who went missing in Mississippi back in 2009 and on Wednesday when I’ll tell y’all about a haunted prison in Virginia.
I hope y’all have a great weekend and I’ll talk to y’all then. God bless, y’all!