Book revives talk of mystery

Published 5:03 am Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
Joyce Hicks was just 8 years old when her mother died mysteriously in Brewton.
After reading an account of her mother's death in Joe Formichella's new book, “Murder Creek: The Unfortunate Incident that Befell Annie Jean Barnes,” Hicks said she plans to attend a book signing Thursday in Brewton.
Formichella will speak and sign books beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Brewton Community Center, located behind city hall. Also attending will be former Brewton residents Grayson Capps, who will give a free concert, and author Suzanne Hudson, who wrote the forward for Formichella's nonfiction account.
The three are friends who live and work in the area around Daphne and Fairhope.
Formichella's book is based on the actual case of Annie Jean Barnes, an East Brewton resident who died under mysterious circumstances in September 1966.
According to accounts in The Brewton Standard at the time of the death, she died suddenly on Saturday, Sept. 24, after having been admitted to D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital the previous Sunday.
According to the news accounts, Barnes called her mother's home Sept. 18 and said she needed help. She told her family she was at a cabin just off U.S. 31 north of Brewton, the newspaper reported. For the next week she remained at the hospital, where it was thought her condition was improving. She died suddenly on Saturday morning, and an autopsy determined she died of “natural causes,” according to the medical examiner's statement in the newspaper.
Formichella said the book is a direct result of the release of “A Temple of Trees,” a fiction book written four years ago by Suzanne Hudson, according to a press release from his publisher. River City Publishing, located in Montgomery, has published Formichella's book.
Formichella interviewed a number of crime experts, law enforcement officers and citizens, including many who, according to the press release, had never spoken about the “unfortunate incident.”
Hicks said she and other family members still wonder what happened to their mother more than 40 years later.
Formichella said that the book project began as a promise to them to try and find out the truth. As part of his research, he interviewed a multitude of crime experts, law enforcement officers and citizens.
After the introduction of the book Thursday night, those who are interested can purchase a copy and get it signed by the author.
After the signing, Capps will give a free concert -- a preview of his performance at the Brewton Music Festival on March 8.
The book will be unveiled at 6 p.m. with the music to follow. Books may be purchased beginning at 5:30 p.m. They will also be available after the Capps concert.