As Facts of the Jim Leslie Tragedy Unfolded …
July 31, 2016
On the hell-hot afternoon of the same day Jim Leslie was killed in Baton Rouge, July 9, 1976, an airplane arranged by his good friend, the late Virginia Shehee, returned his remains to his family and hometown. Two other good friends, Buddy Roemer and I, accompanied the body on that unworldly flight to Shreveport’s Downtown Airport.
I was recently surprised to see an online post of a photograph of that sliver of this story. Following up, I learned it and other pictures had then been taken by a Shreveport Times photographer that forty-years-ago day. The more than two dozen images had been donated to the Noel Memorial Library at LSU-Shreveport.
The Times last week granted me permission to personally use the pictures, four of which are included here.
… In the first, attendants prepare Jim’s body for transfer to Ms. Shehee’s Roseneath Funeral Home.
… The second was taken as Buddy Roemer and I exited the plane and met Ms. Shehee and W. C. “Bubba” Rasberry. (As the picture is taken, Virginia Shehee is shaking my hand, though I am barely visible.) Ms. Shehee had been elected to the Louisiana State Senate the year before. Bubba Rasberry chaired her campaign, with campaign advertising provided by Jim Leslie and his team.
… The third photo was taken as Virginia Shehee, Bubba Rasberry and I move away from the plane.
… In the final photograph, from right to left, are KSLA Television reporter Tom Erwin, the pilot and a funeral attendant in the distance, then Virginia Shehee, and Bubba Rasberry. I am motioning to someone to my left, with my brother Philip directly in front of me, and our brother Alan almost directly in front of him. I cannot identify others who are pictured.
My brothers were reporters for the Shreveport Journal, working on the stories of Jim’s death and the many issues related to its arrangement by then-Shreveport Public Safety Commissioner George D’Artois.
Not one of Jim Leslie’s friends on the taxiway that day had any doubt about why and by whom Jim had been killed that early morning.
Regardless of that knowledge and huge stores of evidence supporting it, Jim’s death remains officially “unsolved.”
Such is, as was that flight, unworldly. It is also, any longer, unacceptable.
(I sincerely thank the dozens of journalists whose work is the foundation of this public record. To those who have over the years personally shared with me their knowledge and memories of Jim Leslie, know that I diligently honor your sharing. I thank the Shreveport Times for permission to use these images taken by their photographer, as well as those whose dedicated work with Archives and Special Collections at Noel Memorial Library provides such an important and unique resource for our community.)
© 2016 ELLIOTT STONECIPHER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED