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The Mystery of the Simpson Brothers, Part Two

The second installment about the shady murders of the Simpson brothers by Duluth Deputy Vic Dowis.

Editor's note: We know you've been waiting with baited breath for the second installment of this Historic Norcross series. Need a refresher on the Part 1 of this dramatic story? Read it right here

A mass of mourners, estimated at 2,000 to 3,000, attended the murdered brothers' funeral, an indication that the Simpson family had a fine reputation. 

Deputy Vic Dowis, keenly aware of the threats on his life, as well as the large reward the respectable Dr. O. O. Simpson had offered, left Georgia for several months. The eerie feeling of constantly looking over his shoulder ate away at Vic’s spirit and he could not bear a "life on the run" so, timidly, he returned to a "life on the farm."

His little sister, Hannah "Lola" Dowis, who was just a child, was a witness to the shocking events that unfolded on the day of her brother's untimely death.

“Vic told mother it was ‘good weather to plow and plant pumpkins,’ ” Hannah recounted, “But, my brother must have foreseen his own demise because he told her, ‘I doubt I will eat any pumpkin pie.’ ”

Deputy Dowis never did harvest those autumn gourds; instead, he was shot dead in a field on his family’s Duluth farm. 

“I heard two gunshots off in the field where I knew Vic planned to plow,” Hannah told family members who were curious about the family lore, many years later. “Mother told me to go upstairs to my bedroom and remain there until she called me.  I didn’t listen and stood on the front balcony long enough to see my two of older brothers carry Vic’s bloody lifeless body into our front room.”

“After that day,” a more mature Hannah Dowis admitted, “I decided to follow mother’s instructions exactly.”

As the Dowis family mourned Vic’s passing, Joe and Orin's cousin, Alex Simpson, quietly tucked the ill-gotten reward money under his feather bed, never coming under suspicion as he had an iron-clad alibi. His wealth was not enjoyed as he, most likely, doled most of it out over the years to blackmailers who knew the truth all along.

Unable to face his maker with the heavy burden of guilt on his mind, Alex, then an old man, gave a death-bed confession to his three sons, Weyman, Paul and Alex, Jr., recanting the "official story" of farming all day that he had told the police so many decades before.

Simpson admitted slipping off from his own farm near Norcross, being sure to get his hired hands to promise that if anyone ever asked, they would say that he had worked steadily alongside them from sun up to sun down.

Truth be told, Alexander Hamilton Simpson snuck away from Norcross, hid himself along the muddy banks of the chilly Chattahoochee River. With a shotgun slung over his shoulder, he waited for Dowis to unknowingly turn his plowing mule around to face him. Within close range of his intended mark, both barrels loaded, he shot Dowis twice in what Simpson, himself the shooter, described as an attempt to “blow his head slap off.”   

A dying Alex, Sr. told his boys that he needed to clear his conscience of his greedy act that, although carried out in just a short 30 minutes, had haunted him for a lifetime.

Kate Awtrey April 03, 2011 at 04:45 PM
I enjoy the stories, but I also really love looking at the old photographs. So awesome to see how it used to be.
will toole April 03, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Its crazy how many people died over some alcohol!

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