50 years after gruesome murders, Alday family focusing on the lives those killed led
DONALSONVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Nearly 50 years ago, down in swampy Seminole County, a family sat down to eat a homecooked meal around 1 p.m. By the time dinner rolled around, six members of that same family didn’t show back up.
They had been killed in one of the family member’s trailer homes, just a half-mile away.
But rather than focusing on their murders, the nieces, nephews, granddaughters, and grandsons of the Aldays are remembering the lives they led — and the people they touched.
The Alday Family Murders
Nine miles outside of Donalsonville sits a large stone memorial, marking the spot where a mobile home once sat and where the Alday family once farmed watermelon.
But after May 14, 1973, the media would remember the Alday men — Ned, Aubrey, Jerry, Jimmy, and Sugie, aka Chester — not for telling tales, cutting up, and helping out neighbors. But for the way they died.
“I was told that they were killed one at a time in different rooms of the trailer. Just unbelievable,” Marty Shingler, an Alday family friend, said.
The trailer was owned by Ned Alday’s son Jerry, and his wife Mary.
She was taken from the home, assaulted, and killed a few miles away.
But that’s not the way the family remembers Mary, Uncle Aubrey, Ned or the Alday boys.
May 5, 1973
Carl Isaacs, Wayne Coleman, and George Dungee escape from Poplar Hill Correctional Institute near Baltimore, Maryland.
May 10, 1973
The group kills 19-year-old Richard Wayne Miller while stealing his neighbor’s pickup truck.
May 14, 1973
The day of the murders and the group arrives in Donalsonville.
Around 1 p.m., the Alday family gathers for lunch at farm house before going back to work. Around 4:15 p.m., the group arrives at Jerry and Mary Alday’s trailer looking for gas, drugs and money. Six family members are killed as they come to the trailer for gas.
May 17, 1973
The funerals of the Alday family members are held. George Dungee is arrested.
December 31, 1973
The first trial for Carl Isaacs begins.
January 5, 1974
Carl Isaacs is convicted.
January 7, 1974
Carl Isaacs is sentenced to death.
January 16, 1974
Georgia Dungee is tried.
December 9, 1985
The group granted a retrial due to pretrial publicity.
Carl Isaac’s second trial starts. He was convicted on January 25 and was sentenced to death on January 26.
Coleman is retried and on April 29 was found guilty. He was not sentenced until May 11 after a deadlocked jury on sentencing. Coleman received a life sentence by Georgia law.
July 14, 1988
George Dungee pleads guilty by reason of mental retardation and is sentenced to six life terms.
Billy Isaacs is paroled after 20 years.
May 6, 2003
Carl Isaacs was executed.
April 4, 2006
George Dungee dies in Reidsville.
May 4, 2009
Billy Isaacs dies in Florida.
Who were the Aldays?
Mary was the definition of Southern grace.
“She was just a quiet, gentle lady. She’s like the idea of the modest Southern woman and everyone would just say she was just beautiful on the outside as she was beautiful inside. Just a very kind person,” Paige Barber, Ned Alday’s granddaughter, said.
Ned was the patriarch of the family.
“Granddaddy Ned was a character to say the least. He was also a very honest person, a very blunt, plain-spoken, honest person. And I can remember as a child, I was that way and my mom would often say, ‘Okay, little Ned, now just tell it like it is.,’” Heather Meadows, Ned’s granddaughter said.
Where you found one of Ned Alday’s sons, you normally found all of them. Except Norman, who was serving in the military.
“Jerry was the oldest and he was a perfectionist. He also was an avid sleepwalker,” Meadows said.
“So Chester was never called Chester in our family, he was called Sugar or Sugie. Like all his life, he was called Sugie. He was the lover in the family,” Barber said.
“And then Jimmy was the adventurer. He would kill sparrows or he’d kill dove and he cleaned them and cook them in that little frying pan,” Meadows said.
The boys’ Uncle Aubrey loved them like they were his own.
“I know mom has told me Uncle Aubrey was a very loving man. He was also a cut-up as well and loved children and loved his family,” Meadows said.
The aftermath of the gruesome murders
The Aldays’ lives were taken too soon by three escaped inmates and a 15-year-old from Maryland.
After years of appeals, retrials and inflammatory media coverage, the Aldays had enough of waiting for information.
Because of the Alday case, the state would also go on to limit the number of appeals a death row inmate can make. And prevent them from giving media interviews, protecting future crime victims and their families.
“Every year around this time, the media is about and the story is run. But every year, the media stories get smaller and the healing gets bigger,” Meadows said.
This year, on the 50th anniversary of this tragedy, the family chooses to focus on the lives the Alday family members lived.
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