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Gone But Not Forgotten: Who Was Harry Mitchell?

LAFAYETTE COUNTY, Miss.—Harry Mitchell’s pony might have been puny, but it was fast. As a young man in rural Lafayette County in the 1950s, he would race his friends Douglas Hill and his brother Curlie Hill on theirs, and he loved to show off what his pony could do.

One thing the little guy could do was jump. “Harry would ride up to the ditch, and he’d snatch the reins, and the horse would just jump the ditch,” Hill said about the Mitchell pony’s superpower.

One day Mitchell’s father Clifton rode the pony up to the ditch, unaware Harry had trained it to jump. “He went off,” Hill said decades later, laughing as he recalled seeing Harry’s daddy fly off the pony’s back. “He didn’t know the pony would do that. But it was fun for us.”

Douglas Hill, pictured, grew up in Jim Crow Mississippi with Harry Mitchell, who later married his sister, Ollie. Hill recalled the joy the boys shared in their youth in Lafayette County. Photo by Imani Khayyam

The Hill boys grew up with Harry Mitchell near the small village of Taylor, not far south of Oxford, and their sister later married him after they all grew up playing together. Back in those days, Hill said, young men raced horses like young people race cars or motorcycles today. “It was a Sunday evening sport for us,” he said.

Douglas Hill, his brother Curlie, sister Ollie Mitchell and other family members told and listened to stories about Harry Mitchell while sitting in the victim’s son Dennis’ home and garage several times in 2022 and 2023. The family now is demanding justice for Harry Mitchell’s death 32 years after someone brutally murdered him and abandoned his body under the Taylor Creek Bridge in 1991 in the county where they were all raised.

Mitchell, they all say now, was complicated and often difficult due to his alcoholism, but they loved him and don’t want him, his life or his death forgotten. So they opened up the garage door at his son’s home, formed up a circle of chairs and

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