October 12, 2015

Dillard Greene Coffey (1912-1988)

Dillard Greene Coffey was a son of David William and Martha Etta Destimona "Dessie" Crump Coffey, born in Avery Co., NC on Dec. 7, 1912.  In 1935 he was married to Maude Dellinger, a daughter of Raymond D. and Melvina "Vina" Jennings Dellinger.

Within a few months following the union, Dillard confessed to and was arrested for the murder of  his father-in-law.  Included in the indictment was Austin Blaine Coffey, multiple times cousin to Dillard and a son of David Nathaniel and Caroline Lavinia Coffey Coffey.

The Greensboro [NC] Daily News of Dec. 29, 1936 reported Dillard's surrender and confession to the murder to Watauga Co. Sheriff Edmundson. Neither Coffey nor the Sheriff made a statement as to why he committed the murder.

In a subsequent press report by the Greensboro Record on Apr. 28, 1937, it was reported that former state representative Blaine Coffey and Dillard Coffey had been denied bail at a habeas corpus hearing before Judge A. Hall Johnston.  A trial date was not announced.

I have not found a newspaper follow-up reporting on the disposition of the two. It can be supposed they were exonerated because Austin Blaine Coffey was enumerated as a widower on Apr. 23, 1940 in Watauga Twp., Watauga Co.  That same year, in October*, Dillard registered for the WW2 draft and, in 1941, married in Johnson Co., TN, a distant cousin, Nancy Elizabeth Coffey, a daughter of William Carlton and Bessie Mae Townsend Coffey.

Dillard died on Aug. 10, 1988 in Watauga Co. and was buried at White Springs Cemetery in Blowing Rock. Nancy died on Apr. 30, 2001 and was also buried at White Springs.

*He did spend nearly three years in the state prison in Stanly Co., NC.  He was enumerated there on Apr. 20, 1940.  The May 30, 1940 edition of the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC, reported his parole on May 29 after serving about 2 yrs., 8 mos. of a 10 to 15 year sentence for 2d degree murder.

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