How Lovejoy Boteler Made It Out of Alive After Being Kidnapping by 2 Escaped Prisoners in 1968
“Crooked Snake: The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard,” is written by Lovejoy Boteler, who was abducted in the summer of 1968. "Albert Lepard and John Parker kidnapped me in the summer and I thought I would die,” he told Inside Edition Digital.
Lovejoy Boteler thought he was going to die. It was the summer of 1968 and he was just on the cusp of adulthood when he was among the group of people kidnapped by two men on the run after escaping from prison. He's now put pen to paper about his experience, writing a book, "Crooked Snake: The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard," about what the Mississippi man called one of the most terrifying times in his life.
“I don't know how many people were kidnapped in 1968, but I was one of them. Albert Lepard and John Parker kidnapped me in the summer and I thought I would die,” he told Inside Edition Digital. “Albert Lepard kidnapped me in 1968 when I was 18 years old. He was on escape from Parchman Penitentiary.”
The bizarre kidnapping has stuck in Boteler’s memory for over five decades.
“In 1968, when I graduated from high school that summer, we had a farm north of Granada, Mississippi, and I was down in the field plowing that day. I saw two men, two white men, coming down our field road,” he explained.
He said they wanted a ride to Grenada and water, which he obliged.
“I just had a sense that if I didn't give them a ride, they would be trouble, and so I agreed. I thought, ‘Well, I'll just drop them off at the edge of the town, and they'll be somebody else's problem.’ I told them to get in,” he said.
Then, one of the men stuck a gun in his ribs.
“Well, of course, I naturally considered and thought that they were getting ready to kill me. You could imagine how frightening that would be if you put yourself in that situation,” he recalled. “The fella who I didn't know who he was, Albert Lepard, still had the pistol on me. He was sitting on the right shotgun side. I was considering maybe trying to grab his arm and grab the pistol, and we would wrestle.
"I was a little bigger than him, and maybe I could get the door open, and we'd fall out of the truck and that kind of thing," he continued. "But it was kind of like you might recall when you were a kid being on the high dive and out on the edge and you want to jump, but you can't quite make yourself do it. I'm glad I didn't do anything because later knowing these fellas and who they were, they would have made very quick work of me.”
As he spoke to his two captors, he discovered that they had escaped prison. Lepard was in the penitentiary for murder and his accomplice, John Parker, was in for armed robbery, which heightened the then-teenager's fears. One of the men took the wheel of the truck and instead of going to Grenada, they headed to Tennessee.
“As we were reaching the Tennessee state line, they told me there would probably be roadblocks on the state line. If any shooting broke out, [I was] to get on the floorboard," Boteler said. "I said, ‘Look, before any shooting breaks out, if you'll just let me out on the side of the interstate right here, I promise I'll just find my way back to Grenada. I'll get on a tractor. I won't say a word to anybody.’ But the next thing we knew, we were in Southaven in Memphis."
As they reached Memphis, the two men got out of the truck and walked away. Boteler entered a nearby gas station and told them what happened and the police were called.
Leopard and Parker were then arrested by police at the Adler Hotel right on the Mississippi River. “A little low-rent place,” Boteler explained. Boteler picked them out of a lineup. Because Boteler's kidnapping crossed state lines, the FBI were contacted to also aid in the case. Boteler’s family was contacted and he later learned the story of one of his kidnappers.
Lepard was born into a poor sharecropping family in Central Mississippi. Boteler said that Lepard’s family was “all illiterate,” and their part of the state was a “crime-ridden area of Mississippi, because of the poverty.”
“Albert Lepard was a very likable person. Convicts would tell me that if Albert told you something, you could bank on it. It was the truth," Boteler said. "He was very truthful, very truthful. He had a winning personality, and his relatives would say that. He was always singing as a child."
He loved the string band music his uncles played and he had a talent for yodeling. And though he was described as a "small guy," those who knew him said he was the toughest man they had ever met, Boteler said.
"He was a real hard worker, and then he just got into that bad trouble," he said.
In 1959, Lepard murdered his great-aunt by tying her up and setting her on fire. He was caught and sentenced to life in prison. He ultimately was sent to the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
Lepard escaped from prison six times. He was on the lam in Southern Mississippi when he met his end in 1973.
Boteler says there’s one thing about his run-in with Lepard that still puzzles him.
“Next morning, the sheriff came out to the house and talked to my dad and told him that this man Albert Lepard was crazy. I was very, very lucky. It just came to an end. I told the story many times to my high school friends and that sort of thing. About three weeks later, I was cleaning the truck up and I cleaned the pocket out. I found two 1922 silver dollars in there that apparently Albert Lepard had put in there for me for some reason," he said. "I never quite figured that out."
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