James Lee Haynes was a 32-year-old US Army Sergeant, who was from all accounts I’ve read, murdered and disposed of while attempting to deliver some Christmas presents to his mother and step-father in Saulsville, West Virginia on December 7, 1963. James and his wife lived in Baltimore, Maryland along with their three children. Their car was not an option at the time of the intended family visit so James decided he’d hitchhike. He was a career military man and had just returned from a tour of duty in Germany, so for all intents and purposes, he was probably confident in his ability to take care of himself.
For a 370 mile trip of hitchhiking, things were pretty uneventful..that is until he got to Raleigh County. That’s when he walked into an unnamed local tavern, just looking for a couple of drinks, maybe a bite to eat; but instead, he ended up getting into a fight with three men. I have no idea what actually started the fight, it isn’t mentioned in any of the news articles I have. After things had settled down, James left the tavern to continue his journey to Saulsville. The three men from the bar altercation followed James and ran him down with their vehicle. Unsure if he was dead, they backed up and ran over him again, loaded his body into the trunk and drove over the Wyoming county line.
They purportedly buried his body somewhere on Bolt Mountain, a search of the area led them to find his dog tags nailed to a tree, and his wallet along with several bloodied rags stuffed in a hollow tree stump…but they never found his body.
A year later, James was officially declared dead.
The three men (James Paul Cozort, James Floyd Cox, and William Lundy Trump) were supposedly heard bragging about the murder (police have around 150 interviews of people testifying to the confessions). It’s too bad that they didn’t realize that using a vehicle to kill someone who was walking alongside the road, is a pretty cowardly, pathetic thing to do. Sounds to me like James more than likely gave them a good beating during the tavern altercation, and their only way to ‘get him back’ was to run him down. Pathetic and absolutely senseless.
In 1971, William Lundy Trump was arrested and charged with murder, but charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. There are two other suspects in the murder as well, James Paul Cozort and James Floyd Cox.
Cozort (who had since conveniently moved to Oregon) was questioned in 1971, his brother even promised authorities that if he didn’t tell them where James’s body was, that he would…apparently that was an empty promise. Cox couldn’t be located.
At this time, investigators say that charges are unlikely…they just want to find James’s remains so that he can be given a proper burial and his children can have some closure. Please call the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office at 304-255-9300 if you think you may be able to assist.