"Jesse" James Hughes: A Family Remembers What a County Chose to Forget
By Sean Newman (2005) 
“Jesse” James Hughes
This is the story of a boxer, his life in and out of the ring, his tragic death and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it, and the family that he left behind. Sometime between July 24 and August 11, 1995, the boxing world lost one of its most exciting and consistently improving warriors in "Jesse" James Hughes, a welterweight full of personality and a flair for the dramatic. Others, however, including his parents, three younger brothers, and a wife and child, lost so much more; a loved one around whom their worlds revolved. To add insult to their injury, in the nine years since James' passing, little has been done by local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, or to answer the family's many questions. Like the fighter that James always was, they have not given up on hope that those questions will, someday, finally be answered.

It all began on October 20, 1965, when James Hughes became the first son born to Jerry and Winifred Hughes. Three more sons, named Steve, Zack, and Pat would follow, and growing up in the Dauphin Island Parkway (a.k.a. "The DIP") it became James' responsibility in the role of older brother to look after his younger siblings. As a result, the seeds of a fighter's mentality were planted early, and they would be cultivated by the man they called Dad.

“Jesse” James Hughes
"Growing up, James was as good a kid as it got," Jerry Hughes, a retired 27 year veteran of the Mobile, Alabama Fire Department, recalls of his son. "He protected his three brothers at school, and did all of their fighting for them. He never let anybody touch one of his brothers. Back in those days, you had, and I hate to say this, the blacks coming into the schools and picking on all the white kids. James definitely kicked some of their asses in the schools for picking on his brothers, even though they were all bigger than him. He never started any kind of trouble or any fights that I know of while he was in school."

Although James would be identified throughout his life as someone who was not an aggressor, because of his small stature (eventually growing only to weigh and fight at 147 pounds) he knew that he would be put in confrontational situations, and planned for it accordingly. His father described him as "a loner, kind of a quiet kid." Soon James began a workout routine that he practiced religiously in his bedroom, and did so without the knowledge of his parents. He never flaunted the results of his hard work, but he made sure in his own mind that if a threatening situation ever arose involving one of his brothers, he would be ready.

"I never had to look over my shoulder, because James was always there for me," says 37 year old Steve, who inherited the role of oldest brother when James passed away. "We went to a tough school, and James never let anyone pick on me or my brothers. He wasn't a bully, he never started a fight. He got picked on a lot because he was so small, but he could handle himself. He tried to walk away, but if they didn't give him that chance, they caught hell. I never saw him lose a fight growing up."

Hard work also played a role in shaping James' physical and mental fortitude. As a kid, James and his three brothers would assist Jerry in his lawn business by pushing lawn mowers. In the fall and during the Christmas holidays, while away from school, they would help their father in another of his businesses by going out on a boat and catching oysters. James, as Jerry puts it, could catch oysters like a man at a very young age.

During that time, James also found boxing, or rather, it found him. Boxing had always been one of his father's passions, but Jerry was really without anyone to assist him in that regard due to having been raised on a farm in rural Tennessee. So he made sure that James would have someone to instruct him on what is known as the "sweet science" - himself. Jerry had trained himself as a youth after building his own boxing bag by packing what he calls a "tote sack" and hanging it in the family barn loft.

"I started James in boxing at the age of 12," Jerry says. "I bought him a pair of 18 ounce training gloves, and we had an uncovered concrete carport. After Christmas, he and I went out there and I proceeded to show him what I knew about boxing. Basically, I beat the sh*t out of him with these 18 ounce gloves," Jerry laughs. "After I worked with James for awhile, I realized that he had a lot of potential."

That experience would lead Jerry and his son to an amateur boxing program that was run by the school James attended, and headed up by a man named Cheffy Reyna, who had a contract with the city of Mobile to train fighters. After a few amateur bouts, Cheffy took young James to various tournaments, many of which James won. Jerry continued to make sure that James did not neglect his training, but soon the father-son sparring sessions came to an end.

"After awhile, he started nailing me a few times, and I told him 'you're going to have to do something better, because you're hitting me too hard!'" Jerry remembers, laughing.

James' mother, Winifred, didn't have a lot to say about his boxing, that is to say that she did not worry about it much. Neither of James' parents, however, knew that he would eventually go as far as he did. He was even bestowed with a nickname.

"I kind of hung the name 'Jesse James' on him, after he had gotten into some trouble," says Jerry. "I was at the fire station one day with a couple of the guys, and I said 'y'all may think Jesse James is dead, but he's not. He's still riding the Parkway,' which is where we lived, 'stealing from the rich, but he ain't giving shit to the poor, he's keeping it all for himself!' James was an excellent hunter and fisherman, one of the best on the face of the Earth, his father says proudly. James would take his hunting to another extreme, however, and lie in wait for drug dealers in an area of town known as "The Bottoms." Dressed in camouflage, James waited for a known drug dealer to leave his house, and then, at an opportune moment, break in and take the drugs and money. Then he and his friends would have a party with the proceeds of the heist. James told his father that he had once made a hit on a house where there was $30,000 in cash in a closet. Amazingly, after the bash that followed, it was all gone by the next day.

"I know what my brother was doing, he was robbing these drug dealers," recalls Pat, the youngest of the Hughes clan. "He wasn't raised that way by any means. My dad was a Mobile firefighter for 30 years. James was just a hard person to grasp, but people loved him so much." Jerry concurs.

"He was a good person, but he lived the way he wanted to. He didn't back down from nothing or nobody. The other three boys have solid jobs, but he just didn't want that kind of life. He liked to live on the edge, and he enjoyed being out there and having fun. Settling down and going to work wasn't part of his life. He had several jobs, he was one of the best roofers in Mobile County, but that just didn't appeal to him."

“Jesse” James Hughes
Another of "Jesse" James' jobs became that of professional boxer, when, at age 21, he stepped into a Mobile, Alabama ring on July 13, 1987 against Billy Pryor. He knocked Pryor out in the third round, and went undefeated through four fights, all by knockout. Following those bouts, James was inconsistent in the ring, winning some here, losing some there, and at times facing accomplished future champions like Maurice Blocker (L Pts. 10) and Vincent Pettway (KOby 3). Pat and Steve remember that James never really believed that he was good enough to go all the way in boxing, and that he was just doing it to make money. That all changed, however, on January 4, 1994, when James fought Buddy McGirt in Fort Lauderdale. He might have lost a ten round unanimous decision, but he gained much more in terms of belief in himself.

"James loved the sport," said Steve. "He told me when he fought McGirt that it made his day that he could even hang with him. That is one of the fights that really got James' confidence up."

McGirt himself remembers that day well.

"I remember my fight with James like it was yesterday," said McGirt from his Florida gym. "He came up to me before the fight and asked for my autograph. He was wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, had a chew of tobacco in his mouth and a cup in his hand. James definitely could have been someone to look out for. He had an awkward style, but he could sure fight."

James lost two out of his next four fights, but was still learning his trade and improving at the same time. In his next fight, on October 26, 1994 against Anthony Stephens for the USBA Welterweight Title, he would really take off. The bout was televised on ESPN, and Stephens had the distinction of having knocked Felix Trinidad off his feet in a bid for the IBF welterweight title, before succumbing to a knockout loss. In an exciting fight, Hughes punished Stephens, knocking him down five times before the carnage was finally stopped in the twelfth and final round. Hughes was the new USBA champion, and was looking ahead to bigger and better things. Pat, serving in the Navy at the time, remembers how he felt watching his big brother on television.

"When James got back into boxing, I saw it in the way he carried himself that he was finally doing something he loved to do," Pat said. "He had a grip on life, and he was out of the old life. It was the greatest thing in the world when I was in the military to have my brother fighting on TV and have a family get-together to watch it….what younger brother wouldn't love that?" The "Jesse" James Express continued to chug along on the ESPN airwaves, with its next stop on April 7, 1995 against a rising undefeated prospect from across the pond named Adrian "The Predator" Stone. Although Hughes was the champion, making his first defense of the USBA crown, Stone was the favorite, and in the early goings of the fight it seemed the odds were justified. Taking a beating for the first few rounds, Hughes remained calm, even after a late punch landed by Stone.

"My buddies and I would gather at the fire station to watch his fights," said Steve. "Usually when James fought, he would start out losing. Everybody would be saying, 'it don't look good.' Then they would show a close up of him on TV, and he would give a little wink, and even if he was bloody from head to toe, we knew that he was not out, that he would come back and win the fight. If he winked, we knew he was going to be okay. It amazes me how tough James was."

A wink and a smile later, it was Stone who was on the receiving end of a barrage of punishment. Hughes turned the fight suddenly in his favor, and was once again the victor on a knockout, this time coming in round ten.

After a tuneup bout in Mobile against Kenny Louis (a first round knockout win for James in a non-title bout), Hughes faced talented veteran Nick Rupa in what would turn out to be the last time "Jesse" James would step into a boxing ring for a professional fight. Again, Hughes was losing the fight, but again he turned the tables, knocking out Rupa in the seventh round. It was a special night for many reasons, but particularly so for Pat.

"My greatest memory of him was that there was one fight where my family all got to go, but I had to work," said Pat. "I told him, joking around, that when he hit it big I would be there for every fight, but for this one I would stay at home and watch it on television and record it, and all I would ask is that he just say my name on national television. After he beat Nick Rupa, with all the hype and all the excitement, and all the things that would make anyone else forget, he remembered to say something to me…." Pat said, becoming understandably emotional.

At the time, the Hughes family could not have foreseen what horror lay ahead in the coming weeks. Things could not have been going better for Hughes at this point. He was on a tremendous roll in the boxing world, having made two successful defenses of his title and was negotiating a big money fight against Yori Boy Campas. Then, disaster struck.

Just seventeen days after the final fight of his professional boxing career, "Jesse" James Hughes was missing, and likely dead. With the exception of the actual perpetrators of his death, no one knows what really happened (or if they do, they're not telling), but two things are clear. His death was not an accident, and local law enforcement seemed more concerned with sweeping the details under the rug than investigating them.

Hughes' truck was found on a set of railroad tracks on that ominous day, but, unfortunately, James was not. In the years that have passed since that day, questions have arisen about why a more thorough investigation was not initiated. When asked about the handling of the case, Pat Hughes questioned the motives and actions of those who were involved on the scene.

"The thing that bothers me and my family almost ten years later is how James' death was handled," said Pat. "Jerry Tillman was James' manager, and he is the brother of Jack Tillman, who is still the sheriff here in Mobile County today. When James' truck was found on the railroad tracks, Jerry basically was trying to cover up that James might have been doing something wrong, because he had an upcoming fight. They were just trying to clean up the mess. My brother is dead in the swamp, but they were trying to get it cleaned up and they ruined the whole crime scene. The sheriff comes in and they go through the truck, and there's a hatchet laying there and his hat, but no sign of my brother. What do they do? They just pick it all up and pull my brother's truck off the tracks with a train engine."

In order to understand the bitterness and suspicions that the Hughes family harbors, a review must be taken of the events that took place on the last day Hughes was seen alive, as known by the family.

On July 24, 1995, which incidentally was Pat's 25th birthday, James Hughes walked into the gym, worked out, and sparred for one round. He told his trainer that he just didn't feel up for sparring, and that was that. By this time, of course, Hughes had worked up a good sweat, a detail the importance of which is not lost on the Hughes family.

James' trainer Wally Dinkins informed Jerry Hughes that Jerry Tillman and James had argued loudly and violently in a yard abutting the gym. Tillman had been accused of cheating James out of money before in the all too familiar tale of a boxer's relationship with his manager, so perhaps this was not all that unusual. James abruptly ended the conversation with Tillman, and drove home to his apartment. This is where things start to seem a little fishy.

Tillman, as quoted in a local newspaper, said that he was concerned that James was going to meet with a drug dealer and was on "one of his kicks", so he followed him. Tillman stated that he watched James go inside the apartment while he waited outside. He also said that James took a shower and came out wearing a fresh set of clothes. Hughes left again in his truck, and Tillman resumed his reconnaissance, claiming to have lost Hughes when a traffic signal held him up.

While the Hughes family does not directly accuse Tillman of having any part in James' death, they point out that this story has a gaping hole in it, which causes them to wonder what else isn't exactly true. It turns out that when Hughes' body was later found, he was in the same clothes that he had left the gym wearing earlier on July 24.

"I had known my brother all my life, and I had never known him to go to the gym and then go home, take a shower, and put on the same sweaty clothes," said Pat. Meanwhile, James was missing and his truck was found on the railroad tracks. Jerry Hughes says that the truck was not investigated for two weeks after it was pulled from the scene, not even so much as a fingerprint was looked for. Jerry saw mud smudges all around the truck, and said that it was clear to him that a "fierce battle" had taken place next to the tracks.

Days later, James was found lying in a swamp. In an incomparably poetic irony, the body of "Jesse" James Hughes was loaded onto the back of a train engine and taken back home as the sun was setting in the distant western sky…the real Jesse James couldn't have scripted it any better than that. In another ironic twist, James was laid to rest in a place called (get this), "Tillman's Corner."

"James' death was devastating to the community," Pat recalls. "James was Mobile, Alabama's Great White Hope. He brought boxing back to Mobile. I remember him going around posting flyers on poles. James was getting better as he fought better opponents, and he was well on his way. I loved him to death, and I know he did things wrong. But I'm very bitter, regardless of what happened, about the way that my brother's death was handled. Don't try to clean up the mess to make sure you get your paycheck."

Who would want to do away with the pride of Mobile boxing? There are a few possible answers to this question, but there is one conspicuous motive.

"I talked to Captain Driggers, who was head of the homicide division, and he told me that there was a $500 bounty on James' head if anybody down in 'the bottoms', where the drug dealers worked, would kill him," Jerry Hughes said. "James had a reputation for going down in these 'bottoms,' and if he didn't have any money he would just beat the sh*t out of them, take the sh*t and go on about his business."

Would someone really kill another human being for a measly 500 bucks? While we would like to believe that there is no price high enough to commit a contracted murder, it's been done for far less. There is another curious wrinkle here, but one that is only speculative.

"James had a beautiful wife, and there were comments from Jerry that 'if James weren't around,' he would 'love to'….you know, 'if James weren't around,' Pat said, his message clear from the simple use of the words 'you know.' "It may mean nothing," Pat continues, "but the little things that get overlooked will usually lead you to the truth."

Another sore spot with the Hughes' on the "investigation" by the County are the results of the autopsy, which listed the cause of death as "undetermined." There were no gunshot or stab wounds found, and no water was found in his lungs, despite his body having been in the swamp for an extended period of time. Traces of cocaine were found in his liver, but not enough to have killed him. The coroner further stated that although there was evidence that James' suffered a blow to the side of the head, it would have rendered him unconscious but not dead. That's not enough, as Jerry Hughes sees it.

"With today's technology and forensic science, that shocked the hell out of me. You can't determine how a person was killed?" Jerry said. Pat agrees, saying "They can come up with something better than that. It's a forgotten case. It was done from a couple of days after the fact. They are not concerned about this case, and it's very obvious."

Meanwhile, Jerry was steadfast in his own quest to make sure he knew everything he could about the investigation into the death of his oldest son. He spoke with Captain Driggers on a daily basis, asking if there were any new leads, but after a month, Sheriff Jack Tillman, brother to James' manager Jerry, took the case out of Driggers' hands in order to investigate it personally. Jerry Hughes was outraged, and claims that the sheriff had no expertise in investigating homicides.

Jerry then went to the sheriff's office, where he was informed by the sheriff that there was a new lead. Momentarily placated by a sign of hope, he was told that there was a woman in a local prison who wanted to make a deal and had information regarding James' death and the gun that she claimed was used in the commission of the crime. Sheriff Tillman had one of his investigators interviewing the woman, or so he said, and she said the gun had been thrown in an outdoor toilet in the bottoms. Jerry told Tillman that he would return the following morning to find out what happened.

"I came back and asked the sheriff 'what's going on with the gun and this girl, buddy?'" Jerry relates. "He jumped up, threw his arms up and said, 'Jerry, I can't be going down there and jerking these people up.' I thought to myself, 'you're the damned sheriff, if you can't jerk these sons of bi*ches up, who can?' I just said, 'okay, Jack, I appreciate it.'"

Following that farce, Jerry took it upon himself to pay the District Attorney a visit in hopes that he was capable of performing more competently, or at least more resolutely. He was not.

"He and I went down to the bottoms one Friday evening," Jerry said. "The only thing he did was walk around with his coat off and his nine millimeter, his big shiny badge and his handcuffs hanging out his a*s and knocked on a few doors and told these people about the five thousand dollar reward we had for information. And that was the end of his investigation. There just wasn't anything done."

Sheriff Tillman and the rest of the area law enforcement were not pleased with Jerry's unilateral decision to take the case to the District Attorney. As James' brother Steve puts it, things only got worse with them after that.

"Jack got mad when Dad went to the District Attorney for help, and they had a falling out," Steve said. "Jerry (Tillman) made the comment in the paper that if my Dad would have raised James better, maybe James would still be alive today. That really hurt my Dad, and it pissed me off. I know how my Dad raised us. He was always there for us. He worked two jobs his whole life, and did whatever he could to make a dollar and take care of us. Here's a prime example: He was a security guard at the dog track and somebody wanted him to make a bet. My Dad said he couldn't bet because his kids needed shoes. The guy finally talked him into betting two dollars, and Dad was so scared to bet those two dollars. He won twelve dollars and the guy told him he could double his money. My dad said, 'this money will buy my kids shoes.' That's just the way he is."

So that is where things stand today, and the initial desperation of the Hughes family has turned to exasperation. No further advancements have been made in a nearly decade old homicide case, and the outlook isn't promising.

"I went to a retiree meeting last month," said Jerry. "The president of the Local is a good friend of mine who I worked with for years at the station. He and I were talking and he told me that he had asked Jack, the sheriff, recently if he ever found out anything about my son's death. Jack said, 'we know who did it, we just can't prove it.' Where is he coming from with that?"

"I would never give up, but as far as the law enforcement in Mobile, I have kind of given up," Jerry now says. "I just feel like they don't give a damn."

How terrible it must be to lose a child in the first place, but then to feel as if those responsible for finding out what happened 'don't give a damn.' This is the hell that the Hughes' have lived with daily for more than nine years.

All that the Hughes family has left of James today are some old boxing videos, photos, and the great memories he left behind. Everyone (except perhaps for the drug dealers in the area) speaks of James' big heart for others. Pat says James was so close to his fans, that when his truck was recovered there were handwritten letters in response to those from fans that James never had the chance to mail. Listening to the family speak of him, it is clear that James was not only a special person to them, but simply a special person, period. James' father Jerry gives an emotional recounting of just the type of person that he was.

"James did a lot of good for a lot of people," Jerry said. "He worked for kids who didn't have anything. He volunteered to bag groceries, and other things. There was one gentleman that I met in a parking lot one evening when I was coming home from work. I always wore a t-shirt with James on it, and this guy came up to me and told me that his wife was a paraplegic, and that she had really never gotten into boxing until she started watching James. He asked James one night out at the fairgrounds if he would sign an autograph for his wife, and…(at this point, it became very difficult for Jerry to continue telling the story)...James told him…..that he would do a little better than that…..and he went to the man's house….and he hugged the lady…..sitting there in the wheelchair."

"Another time there was a boy on the Parkway that had a disease that was taking his life," Jerry continues. "His grandfather used to be a professional wrestler called "Cowboy" Bob Kelly. They had a fundraiser out at the fairgrounds to help him with his medical bills. James went out there to that fundraiser, and took his (USBA) belt with him. The little boy put this belt on and wore it all night. He wouldn't take it off…..James loved doing things for people. He liked to help people. He just got caught up in some bad sh*t that he couldn't get loose of….that cocaine sh*t….that's what got him."

Pat remembers him the same way. "As a person, James was just like me and my brothers," he says. "Granted, James had a different past, he was a different character. He did his dirt, and where it came from, I'll never know. But he was a great person to hang out with. He had a good heart, but he had some problems that beat him. Ultimately, he lost his life over something that he couldn't overcome. I know that's what killed him, but I just think there is more to the story. My family would still love to give somebody the reward we had offered for information on it. James was my brother and I loved him dearly. I miss him every day."

Pat and Steve Hughes
Steve has a very special memory of his only big brother, and the last time they were together.

"There were a lot of things written about James that weren't true, and that upsets me to this day because I know how James was," said Steve. "If he had one dollar left, he would give it to me. He was turning his life around, and I was proud of him. I don't know what else he had gotten into or how he wound up dead, but I was proud of him for doing what he was doing. The last day I saw him alive, it was on a Sunday evening and we had gone fishing. James came up and hugged my neck, and said 'I love you, man.' I said, 'I love you too, buddy.' He told me he had to get back into town to train for his next fight. If I had known that would be the last time I saw him, I wouldn't have let him leave. At least I got to hug him."

Steve, along with brother Zack, followed their father's footsteps into the Mobile Fire Department. Gathering to watch James' fights may have been a ritual for the guys when Jerry Hughes was still active, but Steve now says that boxing is something he would rather not see.

"I don't really even watch boxing anymore," Steve explains. "It's sad because I love the sport, but if we are sitting in the fire station and someone turns on a boxing match, I won't say anything. I'll get up and go in another room, because it makes my stomach numb. It makes me think of James."
When asked about his brother's boxing career, however, Steve lights up, as do all of the Hughes.
"James fought Rocky Balboa style, where you take a beating, and just hang in there and turn it all around in the end," Steve said.

"He was somebody you wanted to watch," Pat agreed. "He might get beat for four or five rounds, but he was an unpredictable, gritty fighter who had nothing to lose."

Zack Hughes
"People can say what they want, but I think my brother would have beaten Felix Trinidad," Steve says boldly. "Trinidad was a better boxer, but James would have stayed on him. Once James got someone hurt, he would finish them off. James always thought that he was just doing this to make money. I don't think he thought he had the skills until he won the fights he did. Then he realized he could go all the way, and I think he had it in his heart that he could beat Trinidad, and he wanted to fight him."

"All the boxing, you can throw out the window," Pat says. "He was my parent's first son. I could have done without all that he accomplished in boxing, if I could just have him here to see my kids."
The Hughes family all agrees that James passed away on July 24, and not July 25 as listed. "We always call Pat to wish him a happy birthday, but it's kind of a sad situation too, because Pat said that all he ever had to look forward to on his birthday is to think about James," Steve said.

As for the Sheriff Jack Tillman, Jerry Hughes leaves us with this narrative: "Jack used to be a welterweight boxer, and was supposed to be the best thing in Mobile County. He never made it anywhere though, because his opponents were handpicked. He was quick, but he didn't have a chin or any power. Jack asked me once after one of James' fights, 'who do you think would have won if me and James had a fight?' I said, 'well, I don't know Jack.' But I wanted to tell him 'you wouldn't last two rounds, James would kick your a*s,'" Jerry says, laughing.

Jerry Tillman soon began managing other fighters around Mobile, but never found the success he had with "Jesse" James Hughes. "Jerry started managing someone after that and said that this kid was ten times better than James ever was," said Steve. "But that kid hasn't done sh*t."

I have written in the past that "Jesse" James Hughes was Arturo Gatti before Gatti was the fighter who defined blood and guts warriors. He didn't have the most aesthetically pleasing abilities, but what he did in the ring was beautiful nevertheless. Just as his brothers said, he would be on the brink of defeat, but he kept fighting hard and usually came out on the winning end against fighters he wasn't expected to beat. Simply put, he was a fighter, in every sense of the word. That is the legacy that he leaves in boxing.

Jerry Hughes, Zack Hughes,Winifred Hughes, Pat Hughes, Steve Hughes and Jesse Hughes
James also left a wife, Carmen, and a son, Christopher, who is now 17. There was a dispute over Carmen's use of the funds that were to be for the benefit of Chris, and communication with her was lost. The family isn't sure what became of Carmen after her husband's death, but suspect that she found some trouble herself. Chris, on the other hand, is "doing well" and has a job and a girlfriend. What he doesn't have, however, is his father to be there to guide him, to take him hunting or fishing, and to pat him on the back for a job well done. All because someone was either paid to do an evil deed, or was seeking revenge for losing dope money, or some other senseless purpose.

"Nobody deserves to die over things like that," Pat says. "There's enough of that in this world. Somebody out there is going to live the rest of their life, probably free, saying to themselves, 'I know I did this.' It may change that person's life, because of the regret."
Pat pauses a moment, then adds, "Somebody knows. Somebody can answer every question we have to ask."

The question is, will they?

Addendum: The Hughes family wishes to post an updated obituary for James, as he was never able to meet a few members of his family who came along following his death. The final line is in tribute to James' roots, of which he was very proud.

Jesse Hughes
"Jesse" James Melvin Hughes
October 20, 1965-July 24, 1995
James Melvin Hughes was survived by his parents, Jerry and Winifred Etola Hughes, wife Carmen, son Christopher James, and brothers Steven Wayne, Zackary Scott, and William Patrick, and a host of nieces and nephews, including Nicholas Wayne Hughes (Steve's son), Alexandria Nicole Hughes (Zack's daughter), Sarah Jordan Hughes (Zack's daughter), Riley Patrick Hughes (Pat's son), and William Mason Hughes (Pat's son). ROLL TIDE ROLL.

Writer's note: I would like to thank the entire Hughes family, including those that I did not have the opportunity to contact, for their generosity in allowing me to talk to them on this very touchy subject. I truly appreciate everything that you did. You will be in our thoughts and prayers, and also in our hopes that one day that someone will come forward and your pain will be eased. |

The following is a poem written by a fan of Hughes’ named Sandra Callahan.
"I Killed Jesse James Hughes"
You came into our lives one day
and took a loving son away.
In an act so hideous for even you,
you took the life of Jesse James Hughes.

What kind of person could you possibly be To kill a man as you did he?
To leave him rot as if he's no soul
with God watching closely registering your toll.

You hurt us all when you did this deed.
Whether his past, his present, or only your greed.
You showed us now that you are there.
When you face your God he'll make you care.

We will no longer live in fear
of a lower class person considered our peer.
For I know I am better than you somehow
such an inhuman act I'd never allow.

You will have to pay for what you have done,
taking him away from his family and son.
You can run all your life but never hide,
for God's Golden Rule is on Jesse's side.

If we on earth never know your name,
the devil has it hanging in his hall of fame.
So after a lifetime of watching your back,
of sleepless nights and peace you lack,

You'll have to meet your maker one day.
So if you elude us you still have to pay.
How much compassion will God then give you,
when you finally confess, "I killed Jesse James Hughes?"

Continue: Ten Years Later: “Jesse” James Hughes Remains a Mystery.
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