James Clayton met his end in Texas's death chamber for the senseless murder of a young schoolteacher in 1987.

James Clayton met his end in Texas's death chamber for the senseless murder of a young schoolteacher in 1987. Abilene, in the center of the state, is a classic Midwestern "cow town" whose biggest claim to fame is being the birthplace of President Dwight Eisenhower, although he mostly grew up in Kansas. It was home to approximately 100,000 people in the mid-1980s when 27 year old Lori Barrett, who taught 5th grade classes at an elementary school in nearby Hawley, headed home from her night job at a department store on Thursday, September 17, 1987. Lori failed to come into class the next morning and the school superintendent got worried; she was a dependable individual who would not have taken off from work without calling in and announcing it. One of her co-workers at the department store called her apartment but there was no answer.

The school principal, Cecil Davis, was also concerned; Lori being inexplicably AWOL was not like her at all. He decided to go to her apartment on Avenue D and perform a welfare check on her. The apartment was empty and none of Lori's neighbors had seen her either so he called police.

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  1. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    When Abilene PD officers arrived at the apartment, they found that everything looked broadly normal. Nothing was disordered and there was no indication that anything violent had happened inside. But it quickly became apparent that someone had pried open the bathroom window and some dirt and grass lay in the sink. The window was heavy and difficult to open; Lori normally couldn't open it without male assistance. On the exterior window frame were scrape marks suggesting a flathead screwdriver had been used to pry it open and indeed a screwdriver was found nearby. Lori's '84 Nissan Sentra was missing and outside the apartment was one of her earrings and a curling iron with its cord cut off. The car later turned up in the parking lot of Abilene Christian University; it was badly smashed and dented up.

    Half a block from Barrett's home was the residence of James Clayton, a 20 year old African-American man who worked in a clerical job in Abilene. Lori's family hired a private investigator named William Hurley. He questioned a friend of Clayton who had seen him driving the Nissan around on September 17 and also the next morning. The man told Hurley that Clayton borrowed the car from a Lori. Police arrived at Clayton's apartment on the 23rd to talk to him. He admitted he was driving Barrett's car without her permission. The cops read him his Miranda rights and he allowed them to search his apartment. He refused to go downtown and consent to an interview with police, so they arrested him for unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

  2. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    In a dumpster outside his apartment, Lori's sister found her car's license plate, some of her mail, and a bag containing a belt she'd been wearing on the 17th and a half-eaten sandwich. A search warrant for Clayton's apartment was obtained on September 24. Inside the police found Lori's insurance card. After this a large scale manhunt began for the missing schoolteacher. Lori's extensively decomposed remains were found on the 29th across the county line in Jones County. The corpse was wrapped in a blanket and tied up with an electrical cord. A Remington .243 cartridge case was found with it. Due to the poor condition of the body, Lori had to be identified through dental records.

    A tragic end for the young teacher, who had only had her job two weeks--a California native, Barrett moved to Texas after high school, obtained her degree in education at Texas A&M, and taught in College Station for a few years. She'd taught part time at Hawley until Principal Davis decided to hire her as a full time teacher as the 1987-88 school year was beginning.

    The Abilene PD then obtained an evidentary search warrant for several objects they'd seen during the earlier search of Clayton's apartment. These included a pair of boots, a Winchester .243 rifle, and ammo matching the cartridge case found with Lori's body. Clayton was charged with first degree murder. As it turned out, Clayton was in a bad mood lately as his girlfriend had wanted to end their relationship. He spoke of wanting to kill her and her parents and their dog. Clayton told a friend that he'd served in the Army, was trained to kill, and it was the only way to vent his anger.

  3. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Lori's neighbor said she hearing a woman screaming on the night of September 17 and the screams were loud and persistent enough that he decided something was up so he took out a loaded gun and went to investigate the ruckus. He couldn't find where they were coming from but they were loud enough that they could be heard over a rainstorm happening that night.

    Taylor County medical examiner Dr. James Weiner perfomed the autopsy on Lori. He said she'd been shot in the head and neck with high velocity rounds that managed to cut clean through her and come out the other side. She'd also been gagged and a ligature placed around her neck. It had been 12 days between Lori's death and the discovery of her body, and the hot Texas weather sped up decomposition. It was no longer possible to tell if she'd been strangled but the two gunshot wounds would have been fatal regardless. Clayton was charged with first degree murder, burglary, robbery, and kidnapping. He pled innocent but was nonetheless found guilty by a jury and sentenced to death in November 1988. Per standard procedure his death sentence was automatically reviewed by the state supreme court and upheld. The Supreme Court turned down his appeals in 1993. In 1995, Congress passed a bill limiting the amount of Federal appeals a condemned inmate was allowed to make.

    James Clayton was born in Brooklyn, New York City on November 30, 1966. His first run-in with the law happened at age 14 when he committed a burglary while armed with a gun. As part of a plea deal, he was put in a foster care facility rather than jail. By his senior year of high school in 1985, he'd gotten in trouble with school authorities numerous times. This included a year's suspension for sneaking into the girls' dormitory at the foster care facility. He also stole from a family who let him stay at their place. Clayton had left New York and headed down to Texas after high school.

  4. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    He did not have a criminal record in Texas prior to his arrest for murdering Lori Barrett but that was apparently because he hadn't gotten caught since moving there. Clayton told a friend that the rifle used to shoot Barrett was stolen from a former roommate a week earlier, and that he'd committed several burglaries and considered himself an expert at it. He liked to brag to friends about his violent personality and how he would never be caught committing crime. Clayton stole a phone card from one friend and used it to rack up a huge phone bill. He used a credit card stolen in one burglary. His apartment also had various items he'd stolen from homes he broke into.

    While on a school vacation trip, Clayton remarked to some acquaintances that he didn't like a man he just saw and wanted to kill him. He graphically described how he would ram an ice pick into the man's neck and brain, turning him into a vegetable. Clayton explained how he would do this and then hide the body where it would never be found. During this vacation trip, he talked about hot wiring and stealing a shuttle bus they were riding on. He talked of breaking into a hotel room and killing everyone inside. Clayton said he admired his father for killing a neighbor's dog that kept them awake at night with its barking. He said he would like to join the military so he'd have an officially sanctioned excuse to kill people.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Clayton stole a phone card from one friend and
      >phone card
      they didn't have smart phones in 1987

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >smart phones
        zoomers were a mistake

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        A better time it was.

  5. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    He told a female classmate about poking out people's eyes or breaking their necks. Clayton said he was angry at his girlfriend and wanted to kill her. He would break into the house, disable its alarm, smother her, and leave before anyone found out. This classmate admitted that she was frightened of Clayton. He said he wanted to crush someone's skull so he could hear the noise it would make.

    In Texas's death row, Clayton continued to maintain his innocence. He said it was very sad that Lori Barrett's life was taken from her but that the Abilene PD were also grossly incompetent and he'd been singled out so the cops wouldn't have to do any more detective work. Clayton added that the coroner had not even been able to establish a precise cause of death for Barrett and that he had no prior criminal record as an adult. He claimed he'd met Lori at a shopping mall in Abilene and invited her to his place with a party. He went off to bed later that evening and last saw her leaving with a man he knew only as "Andy." Clayton said Barrett left her keys behind in his apartment, so he took them and used her car to do some errands. He crashed it into a light pole on East North 16th Street and a passerby helped him tow it to the parking lot where it was found.

    That story was clearly contradicted by all the physical evidence showing that Clayton had broken into Barrett's apartment and kidnapped her, as well as the unlikely idea that she would have gone to someone's house for a party during the week when she had to get up early for work.

  6. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Clayton was one of seven inmates who attempted an escape from Texas's death row at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville on November 26, 1998. He and five other inmates were quickly captured while a sixth, Martin Gurule, was shot by correctional officers while trying to scale a fence. Gurule escaped but later succumbed to his wound and his body was found in a creek bed a week later.

    James Clayton was executed on May 25, 2000, the 217th person executed by Texas since 1976.

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    Anonymous

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  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Every act of violence committed by blacks against whites is justified. In fact, it is an act of heroism to punish whites for their legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Seethe

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      What about the shit moslems did to their poor Black person slaves? Can the blacks frick up brownoids too?

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

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  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    N

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    was she raped before being killed?

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      It doesn't seem like it. His motive seemed to be anger towards women rather than sex.

  12. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    G

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    Anonymous

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