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Roger Z. Dedmond


Sentenced to 18 years in prison on December 12, 1967, for the manslaughter of his wife, Roger Zane Dedmond was released after serving ten months in jail when another man was charged and ultimately convicted of the killing.
 
Dedmond and his wife, Annie Lucille Dedmond, were observed fighting in a nightclub near Gaffney, South Carolina, on May 19, 1967. According to Dedmond, later that evening the couple reconciled their differences and drove to a restaurant in Gaffney. Dedmond went inside and purchased doughnuts and coffee. Upon returning to the car, he discovered that his wife was gone.
 
The next morning, Mrs. Dedmond’s body was found lying in a rural road in Union County, South Carolina. Dedmond was informed of his wife’s death, and, after identifying the body, he was arrested. On December 12, 1967, he was convicted of manslaughter, based largely on police testimony that he had confessed while in police custody.
 
During the trial, Dedmond claimed that he had been questioned for more than two continuous days after his arrest, but that he never admitted knowledge of the crime. Additionally, witnesses testified that Dedmond was in a café in Spindale, North Carolina, at the time his wife was killed. Nonetheless, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
 
On February 8, 1968, Bill Gibbons, the managing editor of a local newspaper, received an anonymous call from a man who explained that he was the killer of Annie Lucille Dedmond, and detailed two locations where other bodies could be found. Gibbons called the sheriff of Gaffney, South Carolina, and they, along with several deputies, found the bodies of two missing young women.
 
On February 12, Gibbons received a second call from the same anonymous man who stated that there would be more deaths and reiterated that he was the killer of Mrs. Dedmond. He provided previously unreported details of Mrs. Dedmond’s killing, and stated that Dedmond should be released from prison.
 
The following day, fifteen-year-old Opal Dianne Buckson, was abducted. Her brother and sister witnessed the abduction and provided a description of the abductor to the police. Two days later, two men noticed a man fitting the description provided by Opal Buckson’s siblings. The man quickly drove away, but the men recorded his license plate number and passed this information on to the police. Police detectives searched the area where the man had been located and found the body of Opal Buckson. They traced the license plate number to Lee Roy Martin, a thirty-year-old textile worker and father of three. Martin admitted to all four killings and led police to the clothing of the victims, including the clothes belonging to Annie Lucille Dedmond, as well as a dog owned by one of the women.
 
On February 29, 1968, shortly after Lee Roy Martin was arrested, Dedmond was released from prison and returned home to his toddler son. After Martin pleaded guilty to Annie Lucille Dedmond’s murder, the charges against Dedmond were dismissed on September 16, 1968. Dedmond had served ten months in prison.
 
- Aaron Wallisch
State:SC
County:Union
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Reported Crime Date:1967
Convicted:1967
Exonerated:1968
Sentence:18 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:28
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Official Misconduct