Leonard Brown

Episode 17: Greenville, We Have a Problem

Biographies | Show notes | Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Other listening options

Greenville, We Have a Problem digs into the rampant violence in Greenville, SC in 1975, one of the years Greenville County was the murder capital of South Carolina, and then digs into Leonard Brown’s vault of tape recordings from the 1970s when he was working to prove Sheriff Cash Williams was corrupt. For more, read the show notes or listen to the episode above.


#yeahTHATmurder

In the mid-1970s, Greenville County was the murder capital of South Carolina, and led the state in almost every category of serious crime. Here’s 1975 Greenville: By the Numbers:

Mr. X

Greenville, SC’s first homicide victim in 1975 was found wrapped in a bedspread, tied up, beaten, doused in gasoline, and partially burned. Authorities never identified his body and never discovered who killed the man. The victim remains buried in a potter’s field in northern Greenville County. The sketch below is the only thing we have to identify Mr. X. Resolver Media producers are currently working to identify the man. Someone killed Mr. X just after New Year’s Day in 1975. Some tips have indicated the man might have been from Atlanta. If you have any information about who Mr. X might be, please go to our contact page and let us know.

The Inventions of Ray Hamby

Thomas Ray Hamby was Greenville’s court jester, though it’s not entirely clear he was aware of his role. People who knew him described him as everything from a genius to a nut. During the 1970s gas crisis, he invented a device that protected gas tanks from siphon hoses. He also invented a sex machine he intended to sell to women’s prisons. When that didn’t work out, he used the machine to put on traveling sex shows in a motor home. That landed him in jail and began his feud with Greenville County Sheriff Cash Williams. Below are pictures of some of Hamby’s efforts. (Thanks to Leonard Brown and Leonard Brown, Jr. for providing some of this material.)

Charlie Russo

The City of Greenville Police and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, like nearly every department in the country, have many cold cases. One of Greenville’s most famous is the murder of Charlie Russo, an accomplished saxophone player who toured with big band trumpet player Charlie Spivak. You can learn more about Russo below. To see some of the other cold cases from the city of Greenville, click here.

Pee Wee

The year Greenville, SC was the murder capital of South Carolina, the state finally captured serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins, who claimed to have killed more than 100 people. Gaskins killed his last victim with a homemade bomb in prison.

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Show notes:

Greenville, We Have a Problem begins with the story of Ray Hamby, who used some very unorthodox methods to attack Greenville County Sheriff Cash Williams.

The episode then digs into just how crime-ridden and murderous Greenville County was in 1975, the year Frank and Rufus Looper were murdered.

Then, producer Brad Willis digs into Leonard Brown’s vault of tapes. Brown recorded many conversations in the 1970s in an attempt to prove Sheriff Williams was actively working to have his political opponents murdered.

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Featured interviews in Greenville, We Have a Problem

Episode 15: The Difference Between A and THE

Charles Wakefield may have been innocent of murder, but he was not 100% innocent of everything.

Episode 12: Dare Me to Come

It’s pretty hard to re-write history…when somebody recorded it.

Episode 11: Love & Hate

Biographies | Show notes | Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Other listening options

Love & Hate reveals Arthur Edward Williamson, Jr. for the first time. Known as Fast Eddie, Williamson was likely the most notorious criminal from Upstate South Carolina in the 1970s. For more, read the show notes or listen to the episode above.

FAST EDDIE: IN HIS OWN WORDS

Murder, etc. producer Brad Willis has been corresponding with Arthur Edward Williamson, Jr. since autumn of 2018. Most of their correspondence has been off-the-record, but in the spring of 2019, Williamson agreed to go on-the-record about some specific topics related to his life and the criminal underworld of 1970s Greenville.

Below are some of Fast Eddie Williamson’s recollections, in his own words.

Fast Eddie Williamson circa 2016

EDDIE AND WOLF MATHIS

Wolf Mathis gave me this nickname when I managed the Hide Away for him on West Washington St. down next to the railroad station. It was then and probably now a “wino location” in Greenville for homeless men and women. That section of Greenville was a troubled area. Lots of fighting. When I managed the Hide Away, I stopped most of it.

However, due to my interest in gambling, fighting, and trying to learn to play pool — at which, I might add, I never got to be a great player — an old wino by the name of Nub Grains, who was at one time one of the best pool hustlers in our county, taught me at the Hide Away daily and helped me clean up in the morning when I opened the bar.

I did know, though, how to make a game so that I would win.

Wolf taught me to use a Whip Cup (a cheating device) for shooting dice. What I learned from Wolf and what I had learned from George Coker at the Hawaiian Eye on Old Easley Hwy 124 in West Greenville about dice and strippers, and working cards so you cut only tens up to aces, led to me winning so much that Wolf started calling me “Fast Eddie.”

Most believe it came from the Bank Robbery days of the 1970s but it actually came from 1967 to 1969. It came alive, though, in the 70s.

If you want to research just like we did on Murder, etc., start with Newspapers.com.
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THE CHAINLINK FENCE CAPER

Billy certainly caught me in a lie that should never had been caught. I was out on parole on the (Tommy Pearson) manslaughter charge after serving 18 months.

Mr. Catoe owned and operated the Mack Truck and Trailer place on White Horse Rd. and had promised me that I could show I worked for him so my state parole would not be revoked. I did everything I told him I would, but at the first opportunity, he sold me out. People like that live miserable lives — bet on it. He turned out to be a lucky man — and he does not know how lucky. That is water over the dam now.

The Timeline

Keep track of all the important people, events, and when they happened in the interactive Murder, etc. timeline.

Max Courson’s Dixie Mafia Gangster

Fast Eddie is mentioned several times in Max Courson’s book. Read Dixie Mafia Gangster on Kindle or visit his website.


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Show notes:

Love & Hate introduces listeners to Arthur Edward Williamson, Jr., better known as Fast Eddie, who as a boy had the words LOVE and HATE tattooed on his fingers.

Williamson, a Greenville native, is in prison but has been communicating with Murder, etc. producer Brad Willis for the past six months.

Willis takes listeners back to Fast Eddie’s childhood, and through his life as a criminal, and then explains that Williamson has agreed to reveal things about the Looper murders investigation that no one has ever discussed publicly.

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Featured interviews in Love & Hate

Episode 9: Saint Christopher

What does it mean to be a good cop? Does it require justice?

Episode 6: Unexpected Company

Unexpected Company begins Murder, etc.’s deep dive into the documents, pictures, and stories that Greenville County has never heard about the Looper murders. It includes an interview with one of the last people to speak to Frank Looper, new details of what Looper’s mother told police, a possible explanation for why some eyewitnesses weren’t called at trial, revelations about the crowded crime scene, and previously unrevealed report that supported the theory that a hit man killed the Loopers. For more, read the show notes or listen to the episode above. For more details not covered in the podcast episode, read KILLER below.

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