Beneath The Surface

A New South town is haunted by Deep South ghosts-- and a fresh, ugly murder

The Ancient Greeks told of a mania that masquerades as clarity, one that demands tearing a human being limb from limb and scattering his or her remains to the winds to quench some dire compulsion for cosmic order. That kind of bacchanalia, bloody and bestial, did not perish with the age of Sophocles. The remains of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper County, East Texas, are testament to its endurance.

Byrd's body was found on the morning of June 7, torn apart as if some wild animal had set upon it. His torso was at the side of a country road. His...

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