Cliff Sain

Managing Editor Cliff Sain

A high-profile murder case from the Tri-Lakes area was recently featured on a popular Podcast.

The podcast “Small Town Murder” dropped an edisode last week that focused on the 1988 murder of 19-year-old William Lawrence and his grandparents, Lloyd and Frankie Lawrence, by Darrell Mease.

For those who aren’t familiar with the popular “Small Town Murder” podcast, be aware that it is not family friendly. It is hosted by a pair of comedians James Peitragallo and Jimmie Whisman, and while they make a point of not cracking jokes about the victims or their families, everything else is fair game. Reeds Spring and southwest Missouri, in general, are major targets in this episode.

The hosts give credit to the book “Almost Midnight: An America Story of Murder and Redemption” by Michael Cuneo, for much of the information in the episode.

For those not familiar with the murder, Darrell Mease was found guilty of killing his victims on May 15, 1988 near the victims’ cabin in Taney County (although much of the story happens in the Reeds Spring area, the killing took place in Taney County). He shot all three of them as they drove by on ATVs. According to testimony, Mease had worked with Lloyd Lawrence in Lawrence’s methamphetimine business. A dispute erupted after Mease claimed that Lawrence would not teach him how to manufacture meth as originally promised. After leaving the area for several months, Mease returned and hid out near the cabin until he was able to ambush the Lawrences.

Much of the attention surrounding the case concerned the murder of the 19-year-old grandson, who was paraplegic, and who was not involved in the meth business or the dispute. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mease was sentence to death in 1990 in Taney County Court but his death sentence was commuted by Gov. Mel Carnahan to life in prison after a personal appeal by Pope John Paul II during a January 1999 visit to Missouri.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, Mease, who is now 74, serving a life sentence without possibility of parole at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri.

I’m not typically into true-crime podcasts or shows. The world is dark enough without me going out of my way to stress that point. But I think “Small Town Murder” is a good podcast because the hosts have a good ability to point out the ridiculous. And while their humor is not politically correct, (Seriously, folks. At the 12-minute mark, the hosts get completely off the subject and, well, I can’t even print a hint about their discussion) they seem to have a good sense of where to draw the line.

I also think this is a better-than-average episode of “Small Town Murder.” I can’t vouch for every detail being right, but if you aren’t familiar with the case, this is probably a good way to learn about it.

(1) comment

Library Girl

[beam] Taneyhills Library has a copy of "Almost Midnight." It's a great book.

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