McClendon letter reveals thoughts, depression

Published: Mar. 10, 2009 at 9:17 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 12, 2009 at 11:20 PM CDT
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Michael McClendon's senior portrait in the Samson High School year book (1999)
Michael McClendon's senior portrait in the Samson High School year book (1999)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A package mailed to authorities by the man responsible for ten murders in Alabama has shed new light on the case.

A Thursday evening press conference revealed Michael McClendon was depressed and frustrated with life and the fact that his life goals of becoming a marine or a police officer were unattainable. McClendon worked for a brief time in 2003 with the Samson Police Department, but was unable to complete academy training. He also served as a Marine, briefly, but was discharged for providing false information.

Barry Tucker with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation said the letter contained an admission that McClendon had killed his mother, and was planning to kill himself, but no one else was mentioned in the note.

Coffee County District Attorney Gary McAliley also tried to clear up information on a hit list. "I have never said there was a hit list," he said. McAliley explained he, and other investigators, found a piece of paper in a spiral notebook on the killer's chest-of-drawers and, seperated into two columns, were names of co-employees and notes about how McClendon was disgruntled with many of them.

Authorities were also definitive in there assessment that the gunman acted alone.


McLendon, 28, of Kinston quit his job at a sausage factory just days ago. Prior to that he'd worked for nearly two years at another food plant 25 miles away in the city of Elba. Prior jobs also included a short stint with the Samson Police Department, though he failed to complete the academy.

The shooting spree covered two counties (Coffee and Geneva) and targeted people in the town of Kinston and the cities of Samson and Geneva in extreme southeast Alabama.

No one knows for sure what sent McClendon into the deadly rampage that killed eleven people, including himself, and wounded others. Those who might have known the reasons, his own relatives, were the apparent targets of his rage. Victims ranged in age from 18 months to 74-years-old.


The Coffee County coroner said McLendon started his day off with bloodshed at the Kinston area home owned by his mother, 52-year-old Lisa White McClendon. He killed his mother and the family dog before torching the house around 3:30pm.

Afterwards, the man drove to Samson in Geneva County where he sprayed bullets at people sitting on the front porch of a home on West Pullum Street. Victim's included McClendon's uncle, James A. White, 55; cousin Tracy M. Wise, 34; second cousin Dean James Wise, 15; and the mother and infant child of a Geneva County Sheriff's deputy, Andrea Myers, 31, and Corrine Gracy Myers, 18-months.

Myers and her children had been visiting from across the street when the killings started. Another of her children, 4-month-old Ella Myers, was shot in the leg and survived.

McClendon then turned to his grandmother's home next door, shooting to death Virginia E. White, 74, in her doorway.

Authorities say the gunman then fled Pullam Street, traveling north on Wise Street. There, he gunned down another victim, James Irvin Starling, 24.

The terror continued onto Main Street where Jeffrey Lynn Nelson, 50, fell into target. Thankfully, Nelson survived his injuries. Shooting continued at the Inland Gas Station where Greg McCullough, 49, was injured and Sonja Smith, 43, was murdered.

McClendon then drove down Highway 52 shooting into random businesses and automobiles.  Bruce W. Malloy, 51, was driving down the road when he became the tenth victim.


Approximately thirty minutes passed between the time firefighters responded to the blaze at McClendon's mother's home and reports of someone being shot streamed into the Alabama state troopers Dothan Post.

Carrying both an SKS and a Bushmaster assault rifle, as well as a shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun, McClendon was pursued down Highway 52 by troopers. Authorities reported at least seven rounds fired into Trooper Mike Gillis' vehicle. Gillis was injured with broken glass but continued to chase the man into Geneva.

Geneva police attempted to stop the suspect's car with a PIT manuever in front of the Geneva Wal-Mart. When that failed Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey attempted to block the gunman's route. At least a 30-round burst of gunfire was then trained on the chief, who took a bullet to the shoulder.

McClendon fled the scene once again, turning onto Maple Avenue and then onto Highway 27 north. Before entering the Reliable Products building, the shooter exchanged fire with authorities one last time. Minutes later a gun shot rang out and authorities found him dead inside the building.


The nation's attention focused on the small, tight knit communities as over a dozen agencies moved in to position, trying to figure out how the state's bloodiest massacre could have occured.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and many other agencies continued to work multiple crime scenes several days later.


"My thoughts and prayers go out to families of the victims in the tragic shootings that occurred today in Geneva County.  Now is the time for the entire Wiregrass community to unite and support each other as we mourn the loss of friends and neighbors.  My offices in Washington and Dothan are here to assist local leaders, law enforcement, and the citizens of Geneva County in any way that we can.  I plan on returning to the district as soon as possible to be with my constituents who have just experienced such a horrible tragedy."


"I am devastated by the violence in Geneva and Coffee counties. My prayers are with the victims and their families as they seek some comfort from God for an inconceivable act. I also appreciate the response of the law enforcement officers in the community who found themselves in the middle of an unexpected terror and performed heroically."