Home Crime 50 Years After N.C. Family Was Found Murdered in Bathtub During Snowstorm, Police ID Group of Men as Suspects – PEOPLE

50 Years After N.C. Family Was Found Murdered in Bathtub During Snowstorm, Police ID Group of Men as Suspects – PEOPLE

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50 Years After N.C. Family Was Found Murdered in Bathtub During Snowstorm, Police ID Group of Men as Suspects – PEOPLE

The brutal slayings took place during a heavy snowstorm.
On Feb. 3, 1972, the bodies of Bryce Durham, a 51-year-old Buick dealership owner, his wife Virginia, 44, and their 18-year-old son Bobby were found dead in the bathtub of their Boone, North Carolina home.
Virginia had been strangled and Bryce and Bobby, a first-year university student, died from drowning, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Their mysterious deaths remained unsolved for almost five decades.
But, in May of 2019, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office received a call from the White County Sheriff's Office in Georgia about "information that we recognized could be very important to the Durham case," Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman said in a press release.
Shane Birt, the son of a Dixie Mafia member named Billy Sunday Birt, reached out to the White County Sheriff's office for help researching a book about crimes in Georgia.
"Shane Birt shared that he was very close with his father, and recalled a story Birt had told him during a prison visit when he admitted to killing three people in the North Carolina mountains during a heavy snowstorm, remembering that they almost got caught," according to the press release.
Hagaman said that out of the conversations Shane Birt had with his father "came the direction that Billy Wayne Davis may be involved, and that's when we started interviewing Davis."
Authorities conducted in-person interviews with Davis in a Georgia correctional facility in September 2019, October 2020, and August 2021.
Authorities allege Davis implicated Birt, Bobby Gene Gaddis and Charles David Reed in the slayings, alleging they were hired for a "hit" in the North Carolina mountains.
Davis, who claimed he was only the getaway driver and the other three did the killings, said they almost got caught because of the bad snowstorm, police said.
The men were members of the Dixie Mafia, a loosely organized crime network in Georgia, responsible for dozens of violent crimes in Georgia in the 1960s and '70s, police said.
"It was these interviews that ultimately helped us determine who was responsible through the corroboration of evidence," Hagaman said. "We are confident that we now know who committed these crimes."
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It is unclear who hired the men for the hit.
Durham family members were notified about the sheriff's findings in November.
"I would like to thank all of the people who worked for decades on my family's case," Ginny Durham, the victims' surviving daughter, said in the press release. "I know that they sacrificed many days and weekends in order to work on solving this case since 1972."

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