Investigation shows Flippos bombed

Former mayor and his wife die following explosion at their home

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Wreckage of the L.N. Flippo home is examined by Franklin County Sheriff U.R. Jarnigan early Saturday morning as he, just out of the hospital for surgery, is perhaps as much stunned by the tragedy as the rest of the local citizens were. He is looking down on the spot where members of the Red Bay Civil Defense and Rescue Squad and Red Bay Hospital staff members had picked up the body of the former Red Bay mayor. News photos/Archie Lee

The explosion that ripped out the back bedroom of former Red Bay Mayor L.N. Flippo, killing him and Mrs. Flippo, both 68, sometime between 3:05 and 3:10 a.m. last Saturday, July 11, was caused by a bomb, stated Franklin County Sheriff as The News went to press.

After an exhaustive search of the scene by state and local lawmen, it was announced at a brief news conference Tuesday that the explosions were not an accident, but two homicides, caused by a manmade device.

District Attorney John Jolly had made that announcement, along with Sheriff Jarnigan and Red Bay Police Chief Buford Barker. Later, the sheriff told us we might just as well spell it out. “It was a BOMB,” he said.

Authorities have worked closely together and given out practically no information on the investigation so far, although it is felt that they HAVE come up with some good leads in the mysterious bombing.

The bomb blew out the back wall of the bedroom, throwing bricks for 30 or 40 feet and shaking piles of green apples off a tree at the back of the lot. Both the roof and the floor were splintered.

Windows were broken in houses in the neighborhood, although not in one of the closest ones, that of Miss Louise Dillard, whose home was turned over to the investigators for an office until Tuesday morning.

Making news – very bad news – are, from left, Franklin County District Attorney John Jolly, Sheriff U.R. Jarnigan and Red Bay Police Chief Buford Barker, as they hold a brief press conference with area media Monday afternoon, announcing that they were ruling the deaths of former Mayor L.N. Flippo and Mrs. Flippo a double homicide. They would not elaborate with newsmen from state, area and local newspapers, TV and radio on any of the findings of the numerous agencies working on the case.

Speculation is rampant as to the motive for the crime, but it was apparently not robbery, as Mrs. Flippo’s purse was found with a considerable amount of money in it. It was said that Flippo’s billfold was never found, however, still leaving some doubt in that motive. Since the family car had been left in a garage for repair, some wonder if the bomber might have thought they were not at home and only meant to warn or scare them.

The officers stated Tuesday that the investigation is continuing, that materials are being investigated in the police laboratory in Florence, following the sorting and sifting of materials at the scene of the explosion.

Autopsies were performed on the bodies and they disclosed that both victims died as a result of the explosion.

The former mayor’s body was found at the rear of the room on top of the debris, while Mrs. Flippo was pinned under debris at the front of the room. She apparently did not lose consciousness for more than a few seconds, for neighbors who were awakened by the explosion told they heard her cries as soon as they stepped outside.

Mrs. Flippo was removed from the wreckage and taken to Red Bay hospital, remaining conscious until being placed in the ambulance, witnesses said. The hospital was preparing to move her to the Tupelo medical center when they discovered she was bleeding internally. She lived only about 20 minutes after reaching the local hospital.

Sheriff Jarnigan lauded the high degree of cooperation between the different groups of men working on the case. He had nothing but praise for the way they all worked together and for the thoroughness with which the investigation was carried on.

In a prepared statement phoned to The News Tuesday morning, District Attorney Jolly named the agencies involved in the investigation.

He said: “The work of processing the scene at the Flippo’s house was the most thorough job of criminal investigation that I have seen in the past 14 years.

“I want to personally praise the tireless efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Forensic Sciences, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Red Bay Police Department and Street Department, Vina and Red Bay Civil Defense Squads, the Public Service Commission and State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“A special thanks goes to the local folks who provided food and refreshments for the workers.”

Jolly added that he has written a letter to Gov. Fob James, requesting funds for reward money in the amount of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons involved in the crime.