North Carolina triple homicide from 1972 was the work of the ‘Dixie Mafia,’ sheriff reveals 50 years later
Half a century after three members of a family were found murdered in the North Carolina mountains during a snowstorm, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office now believes it has solved the case, pointing the finger at a southern criminal network known as the “Dixie Mafia.”
A married couple, Bryce and Virginia Durham, were found murdered with their 18-year-old son in the family’s home in Boone, North Carolina, in the winter of 1972.
An autopsy revealed that Virginia was strangled to death and her husband and son were drowned in the family’s bathtub, according to the Watauga Democrat. All three victims also had rope burns around their necks.
The case went cold for decades until 2019 when Shane Birt, the son of Dixie Mafia leader Billy Birt, told the White County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia that his father recalled a story once during a prison visit about killing three people in the mountains of North Carolina. during a snowstorm.
The White County Sheriff’s Office, which is located just across the state line in Georgia, notified the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office about the tip.
Detectives then made contact with Billy Davis, 81, who was an associate of Billy Birt and is currently imprisoned in Georgia.
During those interviews, Davis implicated Birt, [Bobby Gene] Gaddis and [Charles David] Reed as engaging in a hired ‘hit’ in the North Carolina mountains, one where they almost got caught during a bad snowstorm, “the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office explained.
“Davis claimed to have acted only as their getaway driver, and that it was the other three men that entered the house that night,” the sheriff’s office said.
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It’s still unclear who ordered the hit on the family, who had moved to Boone from Mt. Airy in 1969 after buying a Buick dealership, the Watauga Democrat reports.
Davis is the only surviving member of the group. Court records show that he has been in prison since 1986 for a murder in Georgia.
The FBI describes the Dixie Mafia as “a loose confederation of thugs and crooks who conducted their criminal activity in the Southeastern United States.”
The criminal syndicate was based out of Biloxi, Mississippi.
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“I would like to thank all of the people who worked for decades on my family’s case,” said Ginny Durham, Durhams’ daughter, through the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.
“I know that they sacrificed many days and weekends in order to work on solving this case since 1972.”