Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiny Mercer's Grave

When I first started my career, what I really, really wantedto do was to write for my local hometown newspaper. No such luck. They had other ideas for me and that was to sell advertising. Nope. I was hell-bent on reporting the news. So, I high-tailed it to the radio station and within 5 minutes I had a job.

My very first assignment was to find a grave. Not just any old grave, mind you, but Tiny Mercer's grave. Who is Tiny Mercer, you ask? George 'Tiny' Mercer was the first person on death row in Missouri to be executed in over 40 years. Rumor had it, that Tiny was buried in one of the local cemetaries in the next town over.

Please keep in mind this was waaayyyy before 'google', or even the internet. We're talking the early to mid 80's (yes, I'm that old). With that said, back then we reported news the old fashioned way. I researched and asked a lot of questions.

Finally, I'd narrowed my search down to at least 3 cemetaries. I pulled my trusty little pickup truck into the the gravel drive of a country cemetary. I was hoping I could nail this down on my first try. It was a blustery day, and the dark, looming clouds made the November evening seem later than it really was. The last thing I wanted was to be out scouting cemetaries after dark.

I cut the ignition and the old pickup gave a little bunny-hop before the engine stopped. I slipped off my loafers, reached for my green hunter boots and slipped them on, my pant legs bunched up at the top. (This was also long before rain boots, or wellies of any kind were either cute or in style). When I stood up from smoothing my pant legs half-way into the top of the boots, for comforts sake, I noticed two people, obviously grounds keepers working in the distance.

"Ah, great luck! I can ask them if he's buried here or not and I won't have to wander around looking for new grave markers. Then I can move along to the next place." (I knew I wouldn't hit the jackpot on the first try. That NEVER happens).

As I got closer I could see that it was a man and a woman.

"Good evening," I called. Each one of them had a gardening tool of some sort but I really wasn't paying attention. Besides, I'm not the 'gardening type' and I couldn't have told you a rake from a weed-eater.

"Hello, darlin' ", the woman said. Ahhh, I love to be called darlin'. Baby. Sweetheart. I'm a sucker for any kind of term of endearment. Never mind that she was a scary sight. Have you ever seen a woman with jet black hair with white blonde roots? It's kinda scary. Now picture a woman like this, at dusk - in a cemetary. Uh-huh. It magnifies the fear factor just a bit, doesn't it? But I ignore the chill that's just made it's way up my spine. After all....she DID just call me 'darlin'.

"I'm Kathie Truitt, with XXXX Radio and I understand that Tiny Mercer is being shipped back to town for burial. Do you know if he's here?"

"No sugar, I sure don't". She keeps working the ground, ever so calmly, doing whatever it is that cemetary caregivers do.

"Okay, well I guess I'll just keep looking. Thank you so much," I am ever so polite, just as Mama taught me. I backed up and tripped over something, and as I reached out to catch my fall I come face to face with a little silver, shiny, brand-spanking new temporary marker that reads "GEORGE MERCER".

Like a bolt of lightning I jump up, so excited about my dscovery, KNOWING how proud the boss is going to be, "Oh look! He's right here! I found it!"

I no sooner got those words out than the old man, who at this point hadn't made a peep, rammed what I now recognized as a shovel into the fresh dirt and started screaming at me.

"I'm his father and I'm ...." I have no recollection of what he said after that because when the shovel hit the ground I looked down - and I kid you NOT - Tiny Mercer's grave was 1/4 of the way dug up. Yes, you heard me. They were digging! him! up!

At this point all three of us were screaming. Tiny's father, the woman, who informed me rather loudly that she was Tiny's girlfriend, and ME. As their volume increased they kept getting closer to me and all I could think was, 'Gee, I sure never thought I'd die like this."

As I was peeling rubber out of the graveyard, the cops pulled in. Apparently someone at a nearby farm house had heard the screaming and hollering and called the authorities.

Later that night on news stations all across Missouri the lead story was how a young reporter had found two people digging up executed murderer Tiny Mercer's body. It wasn't until I listened to the story that I discovered Tiny's father and girlfriend were within their legal realm as they had exhumation papers. It seems that the State of Missouri gave Tiny a 'free ride home', but it was up to his family if they wanted to move him to his final resting place - which obviously they did. It would have been really nice if Dad and Girlfriend had shared that tidbit with me at the time.

Ah yes, the power of the prayer of a 19 year-old-girl: "Father, I don't know what I want to do with my life....but I do know I want it to be exciting." Tiny Mercer's grave was only the beginning....

More to come....

Kathie

(Sorry, I have no pictures. I tried to google "George 'Tiny' Mercer" and nothing came up - too far back, I suppose).

30 comments:

Mona said...

Exciting life, I guess!! WOW! I love reading what you write, can't wait for the new book.
xoxo

Pat said...

I've only commented here a time or two, but do enjoy reading your posts.

This one made me think of what my mother and stepdad always told me about driving the roads of the Ozarks. You never know what you may run into. My mother was a visiting nurse and led an exciting life traveling the back roads of the Ozarks. She told some great stories.

Bringing Pretty Back said...

WHAT THE HECK WERE THE CHANCES OF THAT! That is wild!!!
Talk about coincidence/serendipity!

WOW!
Have a pretty day!!
Kristin

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

OH. MY. WORD. Girl, you have got the BEST stories. I would have died of a heart attack. I'm thinkin' this made it into your new book? I hope so, what a story, darlin'!
XOXO
Joni

Doug said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mercer

This is all I could find on him. I visited the gas chamber where he died today. He was the only person ever to die from a lethal injection in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo. Though it closed 5 years ago, this weekend they are celebrating its 175th anniversary.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, you are wrong. His body was never returned to his hometown. He was buried in an unmarked grave in central Missouri because the gang threatened to dig him up. My uncle was curator of the cemetary at the time. His body was brought here and buried at night.

Kathie Truitt said...

Anonymous, I beg to differ with you as I was THERE. It was in Nevada, Missouri to be exact. He was indeed exhumed, dug-up, whatever you want to call it by these two people and taken to another cemetary. Now where they took him after that I have no clue - news reports all over the state have them moving him to Potosi, Missouri but of course I have no knowledge of that. But YES, Jefferson City which is where he was executed DID send his body to Nevada, Missouri. I was there. Period.

Brandi said...

Oh my word, this was fantastic! I even had to read it out loud to my fiance so he could understand why I was laughing out loud at the computer. Fall can't come fast enough, can't wait for the new book!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what to make of this. You're dates are way off regarding when you were there. I know his daughter fairly well. As do a lot of people in or around Nevada, MO. You seem to have very few of your facts straight but I'd call this story very much contrived into something fascinating for reading purposes, which it's not.

Kathie Truitt said...

To both anonymous'
I very well could have my dates mixed up....as a matter of fact it was probably LATE 80's rather than early. However, THIS EVENT DID HAPPEN. I WAS THERE. THE POLICE WERE THERE. IT WAS A LEAD STORY ON THE MISSOURI NET NEWS.

My readers don't necessarily care the exact date that I found this man's grave...they just care that it happened. He WAS sent to a rural cemetary in Cedar County Missouri via the state of Missouri following his execution.

I walked up and indeed found an elderly man who called himself Tiny's father (I later found it he wasn't Mercer's real father, but some sort of 'biker chaplain' that 'adopted' him), and the other lady was his 'wife', or at least that is what she told me.

The two dug him up, were stopped between Nevada and El Dorado Springs, showed exhumation papers and were able to be on their merry way.

I had understood they took him to Pacific or Potosi, Missouri but I could have heard wrong on that.

BUT FOR YOU NAYSAYERS...I SAW THEM DIGGING HIM UP WITH MY OWN EYES..THE SILVER MARKER POKED INTO THE GROUND SAID 'GEORGE MERCER'.

I skidaddled out of there pronto when they started screaming at me. What happened AFTER I left that cemetary is just what I heard on the news.

PERIOD. Now, since obviously you don't want anyone to know who you are, feel free to e-mail me in person and I can give you more information.

g9rgrl9395 said...

As the niece of the woman he MURDERED I find all of this interest in a killer's grave to be rather macabre. Rather than focus on where that bastard is in the ground I welcome you to go visit my aunt's grave... which he put her into at the young age of 22. All of you worrying about the facts of where a loser like this man is buried is really sad. There is nothing good or interesting about that waste of human flesh.

Kathie Truitt said...

Dear g9rgrl9395,

First of all my most sincere, heartfelt condolences to your family. I can't even imagine what your family must have gone through and are still suffering to this day.

This story - this whole blog - is my diary of my life, and basic every day musings.

While I certainly agree that their is nothing good, interesting, or fascinating about the man, this article is in fact about ME. It is an event that happened to ME.

It is not meant to hurt anyone, anger anyone, or inflict any type of emotional distress on anyone - including Mercer's family, whom I am sure this must also be difficult. From what I understand his daughter still lives in that area and from what people tell me she is a wonderful person who has suffered her own heartache from knowing what her father did.

When I wrote this story I never dreamed it would be so controversial. But I will stand by my decision to publish it.

What was supposed to be a routine news lead just happened to be one of the strangest, craziest, not to mention bizarre - and, yes - I dare say interesting- things that has ever happened in my life.

That in no way diminishes your pain, your feelings, and certainly not the life or memory of your precious aunt. And if you will e-mail the location of your aunt's resting place I would be honored to pay my respects. It will be private - just between you and I - and NO ONE will know about it - i.e. it will NOT be written about, no photos, no publicity and I most certainly would never publish the location.

Sincerely,

Kathie Truitt
kathietruitt@msn.com

Anonymous said...

Kathie,
I worked in the Prison when Tiny was executed (by the way he was not tiny)and it was debated almost up to the end to use the Gas Chamber or the new lethal injection. The deciding factor was that the Gas Chamber (a double seater) had not been used since 1965 and it was not certain that it would not leak, so Lethal Injection was used inside the gas chamber itself. His girlfriend or common law wife was as exactly as you describer her (Scarey). George was an outlaw biker and as the Victims niece says a disgusting peice of human garbage that is still held in reverence by outlaw bikers in the State of Missouri. These bikers target young women like the victim and had George not killed her they would have probably sold her to another gang. It still happens today.

EM

Anonymous said...

He wasn't executed until 1989. So seeing his grave in the mid to late 80s is a tad off.
The last execution before Mercer's was in 1965. 1989-1965=24 years. Not 40 years like your story says.
A self-proclaimed country girl that doesn't know a rake from a weed eater? Ummm...
Here's another kicker, you spelled cemeteries wrong throughout your entire story.

Kathie Truitt said...

As I was way across the cemetery I had no clue what kind of gadget or yard equipment they were using. And honestly? Didn't care! And unfortunately my editor does not edit my blog. As for correct dates it probably was 1989- my little boy died during those years and until about 1990 I walked around in a haze.
I don't care one way or another if you believe it happened or not. This event made state news and my station actually won an award for this story.

Kathie Truitt said...

One more thing-one of my novels was sold for movie rights and the other being adapted to a play. Book sales are awesome.
I think I'm doing just fabulous, but I appreciate your smarkiness.
I feel bad that you are too cowardly to leave your name. Poor baby.

Mom said...

It's easy to know everything and talk tough when you are too cowardly to sign your name.

MouthyBarberMom said...

Wow Anonymous. Troll much??
Kathie, I would have DIED if I'd come across two random folks digging up a grave. Not to mention they were bordering on batcrap crazy to boot!!
As for Anonymous, they can ES&D. If you have the "Courage of your Convictions" you should darn well be willing to put your NAME to them.

xoxo
Mac

Kathie Truitt said...

Dear Mr. Stroud aka 'anonymous' from August 11 at 10:41....no more comments on my blog or I'll report you. Yep, it helps to know computer gurus that can track you down. And with your history? I don't think you want that, do you?

Anonymous said...

I served on the Grandview, Missouri police department between 1972 and 1983 and came into contact with George "Tiny" Mercer and a number of other "Missing Links" out of Belton, Missouri on a number of occasions as a number of the club members worked for a roofing company in Grandview. I am rather old now and will die soon so I don't speak badly of most people these days but I will say this, George and most of the other club members were not nice guys. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

To g9rgrl9395,

I have visited your aunts grave. I knew of her from the time of the murder, and she was always thought of in our home.
I had the pleasure of meeting your grandmother, Karen's mother and assisted in gathering signatures to keep the other animal in prison. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and the rest of your family.

To clear something up Tiny was executed in 1989. It wasn't his girlfriend that dug him up, but his wife Christi. She did so , so she could put his "colors" on him. So much for being a changed man. He still wanted to be known as a motorcycle gang leader. May he rot in hell!
Rest in peace Karen. You have not been forgotten.

k weissenbach said...

Dear Ms Truitt, this is Christy Mercer herself. Number one, get your facts straight if your going to use my husband and I to make money. 2nd of all, I empathize for the victim's family. I would also like to clerify the facts- my husband took the fall for an individual who is now in New Mexico living under the state witness protection program. So, there is your killer, lady. Do your homework a little better. Everything you say in your little story about coming across digging up the grave...?? What are you talking about?! Quit lying! You've never met me, let alone meet me in a grave yard with a gardening tool, "DARLIN." God sees everything we do, and he and I both know the truth about it all, and that's all that matters to me. Atleast Tiny was honest. -Christy Mercer

Kathie Truitt said...

Christy,

With all due respect and using as nice of a tone as I possibly can, you KNOW you were there that day. You KNOW that you and an older man WERE there at MOORE CEMATARY in Nevada, Missouri digging him up. The Vernon County Sheriff's report states that you all were digging him up and you laid his motorcycle jacket in his coffin.

The only inconsistency with my article, that you assume I've made so much money on, is that the date was 1989, according to the Sheriff's report, and not the early 1980's.

The FACT IS: I was sent by my radio station to find George 'Tiny' Mercer's grave. I stumbled upon YOU and another man, both with 'tools' DIGGING HIM UP. You were a quarter of the way through when I found you. And yes, YOU DID call me 'darlin'.

THOSE are the facts and standing before God who IS the ALL KNOWING and ALL SEEING and our ultimate judge I STAND FIRMLY with my story WHICH IS THE TRUTH.

I realize that all of this hurts and I believe that you, too are a victim. I hope and pray that you've been able to get on with your life and find some happiness.

Sincerely,

Kathie

Kathie Truitt said...

Christy, Please copy and paste this article and I believe it says it all....AND proves my point.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1908&dat=19890109&id=5UYrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=S9UEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3460,721512

Kathie Truitt said...

Christy,

I also spent the afternoon reading the transcripts of the trial where your husband went into VIVID DETAIL about that night. He ADMITTED to everything so how can you say he was not guilty? HOW?

Funkinfo said...

Hi I am currently doing some research on George"Tiny" Mercer and who he was. I find it interesting that you found his wife and father digging up his grave and that they saw you there and there were no repercussions from the "Gang" that he was in. It was rumored that he was part of the galloping geese, but in fact he was part of what was called the missing link and rancid riders. If you did find them digging it up and you were there with them alone then why are you not a little more "Famous"? If you do a little more research you will find that his wife legally had his body dug up at one point because she was going to have it moved to St. Louis so that he could be close to where she was. The problem being they had to contact the penitentiary in Jeff City to see what his final wishes were. According to the cemetery that used a back hoe to fill in the grave his jacket was still in the grave. But there is no mention of your story anywhere but here that I can find. I would love to find out more and why nothing ever came of your encounter. I am not saying it did not happen, I am just kind of curious as to why it is that nothing more was ever said. There are so many conflicting stories around george tiny mercer. I am trying to get to the truth to add to a compilation of the back stories of all those that sat in the same execution chamber of Mercer. The tour guide mentions that it was the entire galloping geese gang that had planned to go and dig him up, and that when word got out the sheriff's department was there waiting on them and stopped the dig. I just want to know what really happened, because the tour guide is misinforming every individual that is taking the tour. I really loved the history behind his story seeing as I am from Kansas city area and this hits home and it was not that long ago. Please help me make sense of his after execution and what happened to his grave. All the articles and such are so conflicting. Thank you in advance

Kathie Truitt said...

Dear Funk Info,

Why would there be repurcussions for simply finding his grave? And why on earth would I be famous for THAT? Our radio station won an award, it was in the local and state news only has a byline- big deal. And the bigger question is why would I want to be? I am more proud of my bigger accomplishments. Broadcasting. Published author of two books- one being sold for movie rights and the other in its way to a producer for consideration of a Hallmark series. Being Mrs. Missouri, giving back to my community through charitable organizations and being married to the same man for over 31 years.

But back to your questions. When I drove off that day a deputy was pulling in. He stayed the entire day and eventually talked her in to leaving his body there. According to the police and subsequent news reports she did indeed leave his jacket. The backhoe operator was also with them most of the day per the deputy's request.
There was never any anticipation of the gang showing up. The 'tour guide' you talk about is just wrong.

The January 29, 1989 issue of the El Dorado Springs Sun has an article. Contrary to what you'd like to believe this was really not a big deal. He was no hero- no one really cared. It just happened to be a slow news day. Karen's family finally received justice but I am sure it gave them no comfort as they can not have her back.

If you'd like to see the newspaper article I have a picture of it on my phone just for you so you can see it actually happened. Email me and you can have it within minutes.

Kathie

lonedawg66 said...

I had the unfortunate opportunity to live at MSP in 1983 for a few months. Somebody was trying to teach me a lesson - didn't work tho because I went back a couple more times. But in 1989 I stopped drinking and can you believe it? I haven't been in prison since :0). I did not know Tiny Mercer but I did see him one day being taken to the visiting room all cuffed and shackled up. He was wearing a white jump suit, he looked really tall and I recall he had waist length hair and was laughing and joking with the other convicts. I felt disgusted looking at him as I recalled reading about his appeals, with details of the murder/rape, in the prison law library. Some years later, after his execution, I read the book "Execution Protocol" which was about inmates and executions in the Missouri prison system. Bill Armontrout - assistant warden (I think later he became warden, not sure tho) spoke highly of Mercer and his girlfriend, Christy. There are a lot of women who will connect with an inmate thru letters . . . and often they marry. A lot of these people who make these connections did not know each other prior to the man entering prison - I'm not even going to speculate as to why this happens but I do know the women are very loyal to the inmates they connect with, some of them are also extremely defiant toward prison authority. I think an entire book could be written on this phenomenon. Bottom line Mercer raped and killed his victim and threw her away like she was trash. I have mixed feelings about the death penalty for some but Tiny Mercer was the a perfect candidate for what the death penalty stands for. He was arrogant and cocky and I would say, in my opinion, not remorseful for what he did. Mercer had been blessed with a God given quality of leadership and he abused it - being the president of an outlaw biker gang is not leadership - I did read in "Execution Protocol" that he led a lot of inmates on death row to Christ, but then I would say, for him anyway, it was a little too late . . . I thought it was disgusting that he et. al. were making issue about wearing his biker jacket to his grave. Also wasn't his 10 year old daughter at home when he committed this murder/rape? If so that in itself speaks volumes about this vile piece of human waste. My hat's off to Kathie Truitt for her coverage and remember this, Kathie Truitt, you were performing your 'labour of love' and they were digging up a grave to put in a leather jacket with a rotting corpse. Tiny Mercer was no ones hero, he was a rapist murderer that got the full penalty of what the law prescribes for garbage like him. I certainly do not think you owe an explanation to anyone for doing your job that you were commissioned to do and I personally would not waste my time communicating with anyone who can support and even defend Tiny Mercer!
Have a good day.

lonedawg66 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey ya'll. I just wanted to mention that my son knows Mercers stepson. I guess that would be Christys son by another husband. I'm telling you this kid is going to end up with a needle in his arm too. The trouble he has caused and the stories I could tell!