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Entry Category: Nonfiction - Starting with D

Devil’s Knot

Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three focuses on the facts of the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and the controversial court case that followed. One of the teenagers of the so-called West Memphis Three convicted in the case was sentenced to death, while two others were condemned to life in jail without parole; the three were freed in 2011. The murders remained unsolved. The book depicts a bleak picture of small-town Arkansas in the 1990s, providing background for how, in the author’s view, this case assumed a level of hysteria that in many ways equaled the Salem Witch Trials. The book provoked a larger discussion about …

Dockery, Octavia

Octavia Dockery was a writer, socialite, and eventual recluse who became embroiled in the “Goat Castle Murder” case in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1932. The case garnered national and international headlines when she was accused of having murdered her neighbor, Jennie Merrill. Dockery was never tried for the murder, owing to the fact that Merrill’s actual murderer was killed by Arkansas police before Dockery could be brought to trial. Her story, nevertheless, provides an excellent example of Southern Gothic come to life. Octavia Dockery was born at Lamartine Plantation in Columbia County, Arkansas, in 1865, the daughter of Brigadier General Thomas Pleasant Dockery, who commanded the Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and Laura Octavia West Dockery. She was …

Dumas, Ernest Clifton (Ernie)

Ernie Dumas was the dean of the Arkansas political press corps for most of the second half of the twentieth century. His days as a journalist extended back to high school, when he worked for the El Dorado Daily News, and he was later an associate editor and a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and a columnist for the Arkansas Times.  Ernest Clifton Dumas was born on December 13, 1937, in El Dorado (Union County), the younger of two sons born to Joseph Clifton Dumas and Berta Canady Dumas. His mother was an educator who stopped teaching when she got married, but she taught Dumas to read before he started school and later taught his son as well. Dumas grew up in El Dorado and graduated from El Dorado High School in 1955.  At the start of his …