THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Kentucky Fried Chicken Offers $25,000 Reward for Information Identifying Third Suspect Involved in 1983 Murder Case

HENDERSON KFC Corporation is reinstating a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the third person involved in the 1983 murders of five victims kidnapped from a Kilgore Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Anyone with information identifying this suspect should immediately contact the Texas Attorney General’s Office at (512) 475-4446 or the Rusk County Crime Stoppers at (903) 655-TIPS (8477).

Romeo Pinkerton, 49, of Tyler, is currently serving five life terms in prison after pleading guilty in October to his role in the murders of David Maxwell, 20; Joseph Johnson, 20; Montgomery Landers, 19; Mary Tyler, 37; and Opie Hughes, 38. A second defendant, Pinkerton’s cousin Darnell Hartsfield, 46, also from Tyler, will be tried in early 2008 on the same capital murder charges.

During Pinkerton’s trial, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Tanner revealed DNA evidence that confirms the involvement of an unidentified third person.

Romeo Pinkerton’s guilty plea brought the families of these five innocent victims one step closer to justice, Attorney General Abbott said. While we remain focused on prosecuting the remaining defendant in this case, we urge anyone with knowledge about the third to contact us immediately. We are grateful to KFC Corporation for their generous support as we continue to seek justice for these families.

On the night of Sept. 23, 1983, Kilgore police and the Texas Rangers discovered the five victims on rural property in Rusk County. The Office of the Attorney General has been involved in the case since 1993, when then-Rusk County District Attorney Kyle Freeman requested investigative and prosecutorial assistance.

KFC Corporation issued a similar reward for information immediately following the murders, but it was never claimed.

The Office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is leading the investigation and prosecution, in conjunction with Rusk County District Attorney Micheal Jimerson.