By David Wayne Brown
At Road’s End
Robert Lee’s Extraordinary Journey to Forgiving a Heinous Murder
In 1999 Barbara Ann Lee, a beloved West Tennessee horsewoman, and her dog are kidnapped in her own SUV while having lunch at a fast-food drive-in. Subsequently, she was then tortured and murdered by three teenagers at the end of an old farm road.
She pleaded with her killers not to take the life of her dog, Otis.
The murderers soon lead two dozen law enforcement officers from four separate agencies on a 24-mile, two-state car chase that ends with their capture in a Mississippi wheat field. Their arrests mark the beginning of an anguishing odyssey for widower Bob Lee, who must endure years of trials and a lawsuit while trying to find the strength in his heart, mind, and soul to forgive the killers who show no remorse.
Just as his wife pleaded for her life and that of her dog, Bob Lee begged the killers for information about her last moments of life. Finally, one of the killers agreed to write a transcript of her last words. Under heavy guard, the killer met with Lee, flaunting a white envelope that he teased him with during their conversation. At the end of the meeting, he refused to give him the envelope. Lee and the guard followed him to the elevator, at which point the killer handed him the envelope as he stepped onto the elevator. When Lee opened the envelope it contained only blank pages.
As his gut-wrenching journey progresses, he moves from the position of a victim to a victim’s advocate and finds personal victory over the darkness in his life.
Ann Lee’s choice was as light a decision as they come: To turn her SUV into a Sonic Drive-In for lunch. Bob Lee’s choice was among the heaviest: To try forgiving the murderous trio who carjacked his wife in Sonic’s slot No. 22. Our life journeys are filled with intersections and choices, big and small. Author David Wayne Brown, with Bob Lee, takes us on a harrowing trip with heart-stopping turns. The ride starts with a nightmare and grows even darker on an isolated farm road. But thanks to the human spirit this journey does not end there.
– Tom Bailey, Memphis journalist
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Wayne Brown
David Wayne Brown is a former journalist, an adman, filmmaker, and book author. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee where he manages a boutique creative advertising shop and pursues writing and documentary film projects.
David Wayne Brown graduated with a degree in journalism from Ohio University, Athena, Ohio in 1970 and landed a job as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, The Kentucky Post, Covington, KY. He worked there 10 years, becoming the newspaper’s managing editor, before taking the position of editor of the Birmingham Post-Herald, the morning paper in Birmingham, AL. Four years later he was named executive editor of the Memphis daily, The Commercial Appeal.
In 1989 he purchased a music magazine, The Memphis Star, and the graphics art company that published it. This led him into the advertising field, where today he is the owner and creative director of Splash Creative. In 2005 he co-directed and co-produced a documentary film, Of Good Courage, which won several independent film awards. The film told the story of a small East Texas town’s heroic response when the remains of the Columbia Space Shuttle fell to earth.
Author of the Foreword
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, was ordained as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee in 2019. She is both the first woman and the first African American bishop in the diocese’s 36-year history. She is a lifelong Episcopalian who grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Master of Public Administration from Princeton University. She later received a law degree from the University of Arkansas and then attended Virginia Theological Seminary, where she is vice-chair of the Board of Trustees.