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Norman Ladner

Did this teenage boy commit suicide or was he murdered?


Norman Ladner


Norman was found lying in the woods

CASE DETAILS


They sifted through dirt and found a bullet

On August the 21, 1989, 17 year-old Norman Ladner left his parents’ country store to go hunting on the family farm near Picayune, Mississippi. Norman was a popular high school student who loved the outdoors. He knew his family’s 122 acre property like the back of his hand. According to Norman Ladner Sr., his son was late coming home:

“Norman would always be back 7 to 7:30 in the afternoon or in the evening. And about seven o’clock,  I began to get worried about him because he was very punctual and it was most unusual.”

When Norman Sr. seached the property, he found his son lying on the ground:

“I knelt down by him and felt that he was cold, so I knew he had been dead for a while. It’s a deep shock and a tragedy to find your own son dead, because you could never imagine or think how this could happen until you’ve experienced it, gone through it.”


Did Norman see drug dealers in the woods?

A single gunshot to the head had taken the young man’s life. Just after 10 PM, the Sheriff’s Department arrived. They roped off the area and began their investigation. From the start, Pearl River County Sheriff Lorance Lumpkin said he didn’t suspect a crime had occurred:

“Foul play is the first thing that I normally address in the course of an investigation. I ruled it out in this instance because I saw nothing there to indicate that. At first I thought it might’ve been an accident. It looked as though he might have been in a tree nearby and subsequently fallen out of the tree and the gun discharged.”

Norman’s father said the coroner also told him that it was an accidental death:

“The coroner came back to the store after the results of his examination, and he came up with two deputies and he said that he felt that he was 90% sure that it was an accidental shooting.”

However, Norman’s family was in for a terrible shock. When the official ruling came down, the coroner said Norman did not die from an accident:  he committed suicide. The coroner’s decision was based on the fact that Norman died from a close contact head wound. The bullet entered his right temple and exited his left. It was a very typical suicide wound. Sheriff Lumpkin speculated:

“I think that he went back into an area where he felt comfortable and for reasons that we don’t know, that he decided to take his life.”

Norman Sr. couldn’t see how that was possible:

“I knew my son too well. He enjoyed and he lived life to the fullest. He was happy. He was outgoing. He was not depressed in anyway. They made no attempt to locate the bullet. They never fingerprinted the gun. They cannot say that his gun was the weapon that was used to kill him.”

There were other problems. Norman’s wallet with $140 dollars was missing. He had a 1 ¼ inch long cut on top of his head. If Norman had committed suicide, how did that cut get there? Authorities said the head wound was caused by a bloody tree root found at the scene. Again, Norman Sr. didn’t see how that was possible:

“We didn’t see how that could happen because falling straight back  you would hit your head on the side or directly in the back, not up in the crown of your head, up in the peak of his head.”

Norman’s parents began their own investigation. They dug in the dirt area where their son had fallen to see if they could find the bullet that had taken his life. Norman Sr. found a bullet:

“We found a bullet that was longer than a bullet that Norman’s gun would hold. The chamber was not bored out for the length of that bullet. And it had dried blood and a hair when we examined it under the magnifying glass.”

Sheriff Lumpkin doesn’t think the Ladners found the bullet that killed Norman:

“We don’t have any reason to believe that it was the bullet that was fired that caused the boy’s death, mainly because we feel that the boy was standing at the time that the gun was fired. And if that being the case, it would not have been in the ground underneath his head.”

Norman’s mother had a different theory:

“We came to the conclusion that he was lying on the ground and he was shot by someone in a standing position.”

The Ladners gave the bullet to a state ballistics expert, but he couldn’t tell if it had come from Norman’s rifle. And, when they were given back the bullet, they claim it was not the same one they had found. A few weeks later, Norman’s parents went to the coroner’s office to question his ruling. His mother said a stranger interrupted their conversation:

“He said Mrs. Ladner, don’t open this case up. You have other children. I suggest you raise them for your own good.  You’ll never find the person that killed your son.  And then he left.”

Unfazed, Norman’s father returned to the area where his son had died. Three hundred yards away, he found a strange, radio-like device that looked home-made. State authorities said it was not an important clue, but a neighbor suggested he show it to an ex-narcotics agent who lived in the area. Norman Sr. recalled what he was told:

“The former DEA Agent said that this was a type of device that drug dealers use to signal aircraft by sending out a low range signal for the proper alignment to drop a shipment of drugs.”

Norman believes that his son came upon drug dealers in the woods, and they killed him because they didn’t want any eyewitnesses. Authorities continue to stand by the coroner’s ruling, but Norman’s mother says it was nothing less than cold-blooded murder: 

“We will not stop this investigation no matter what, until it is finished. We owe it to our son and we owe it to our children. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the other people’s children out there as well.”


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.

 

Comments

Aaron's picture

If he was killed by drug dealers, then why are the police supposedly so concerned about them finding out who killed him? This "stranger" who supposedly told the mother she will "never find out who killed her son". Were there any eyewitnesses to that conversation? I'm sorry to say that i don't believe that ever happened. It seems too far fetched. And that crap about the bullet they found underneath him and the authorities returning the wrong one to them...i don't buy that either. If any of that were true then why wasn't it ever investigated?
This whole case just stinks from all sides. And I'm sorry to say that it will probably never be solved.

Don't be nieve 's picture

It makes perfect sense if the law enforcement were involved in the drug activity. It's possible that one or more persons in law enforcement had connections to people in drug trafficking and was given a heads up of what happened to protect the operation and continuation of money/drugs/etc into the county. Or even threatened or in fear of their own life to back up the claim of suicide. If a drug dealers with a ruthless demeanor (who is already breaking the law, and at risk of jail time, with so much money involved, whose already risking their own life dealing with thugs) becomes at risk of being discovered and every thing on the line, then yes-it's possible. If a person in law enforcement is involved then they have everything on the line as well-do you really think they wouldn't switch a bullet or lie to cover their ass. This boy could've stumbled upon a deal, been hit over the head and shot, and in quick thinking staged as a suicide. If this is the case, the murderer is not dumb- to ensure the situation be kept under wraps - the next step would be contact the best possible connection to seal the story, then no ones caught, drug dealing continues, cops is paid off and it's done. If any other evidence like the radio being left behind just means there was someone also involved who wasn't as quick thinking and maybe in over their head. Drug dealing is rampant, corruption is fueled by money, things like this (drug deals) happen all the time. You've got to understand- people involved in illegal activity make a choice, they start crossing lines and will let go of morals and values in order to continue what they're doing- they're not going to all of a sudden have an epiphany and allow themselves to be caught. That's like betting that a lion will let a piece of steak sit in front of them and not eat it- bet on something else. I'm not saying this boy's death wasn't suicide but don't be nieve and think a murder is far fetched...bc You might've just had the wool thrown over your eyes and outsmarted by a drug dealer with the right connections-just as intended. Always trust you're gut and be open to possibilities- that's how mysteries are solved!

resident of Caesar's picture

that sheriff had ties to a known drug dealer.....my older brother..

Truth 's picture

I believe that you are correct. That law enforcement ,might have been involved, with the drug dealers. They (dealers or cops)found the kid,smacked him in the head ,and shot him with his own rifle. They would know how to cover it up. Also make it look like a suicide and they took his identification. At least if it's not drug dealers the kid was robbed. Once again smacked in the head, laying on the ground and shot in the temple. I really think this case was solved though wasn't it?

braidyspice's picture

“Norman would always be back 7 to 7:30 in the afternoon or in the evening. And about seven o’clock, I began to get worried about him because he was very punctual and it was most unusual.”
As said by Norman Ladner Snr.
Now, why would he be worried about his son being late at 7pm when it clearly states that Norman Jnr was usually home between 7-7.30? I would start to be concerned about him being late if it was after 7.30, not in the 30 minutes he was due home. Plus, 7pm and 7.30 pm are evening hours, not afternoon so the fact that he says both is a bit odd, to me anyway.

michael r. gipson's picture

The reason it wasn't investigated, Aaron?, is the head of the law enforcement (as bad as it was) of Pearl River Co. Miss. pulled the trigger on the MURDER weapon and is guilty and has an innocent child's blood all over his crooked fingers. Put that in your pipe and puff on it for a minute, which is about how long that innocent child lived after the sheriff pulled that trigger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture

I doubt he would have lived 60 seconds after being shot through both temples.

Rebecca's picture

Somebody from the sheriff department is responsible, that is why they're not keen on investigating the case, because it is one of their own. If it was the next door neighbor or someone else, they would have been knocking on doors and flashing search warrant. The family is right by keeping the investigation open, that is their loved one that was murdered, it is their right to know what happened to their son, they need closure. His life was taken from him at such a young age. So sad rest in peace Norman.

trudy's picture

I say the sheriff was responsible he was a dirty sheriff and I lived there and all the story's were that he walked up on a drug deal

Mike's picture

I heard Lumpkin was a bad sheriff who protected drug dealers in PRC!He also fought dogs and got usted in the process.He died a few years ago,cause God got rid of his evil butt.Norman's family knew their son was killed,cause he stumbled up on them,and he might have told them to get off their land.And they took his his money!The stranger was the real kicker;they would never find the killer who did this!So that let you know the sheriff was in on the murder!I heard about this story a few years ago and I live about an hour away from PRC!

Sue's picture

Your comments about Lumpkin are very true......he WAS a dog fighter and a drug lord want-a-be.....If you go and research the local paper, you will see that many "pot" fields were discovered during his stint as sheriff..those fields were called their "BUNK" fields...meaning the pot was not cared for...meanwhile, as the police were burning those bunk fields, the real fields was being harvested.....If you are from this area, then you may remember a fish house on Rock Ranch Road, it was also several different churches....after the harvest was completed, Lumpkin would meet up the planter (Who is now dead too) and be paid off. The money was always in a brown paper bag and small bills.....I know this because those sorry people had my brother make the payments.

Tom 's picture

Wonder what he did with all the money he made?

Mike's picture

Up his arm

I am this woman brother 's picture

I was with all that trash out on rock ranch road dealing drugs for the Kennedy's spires and burgess they even burnt down lorances house so he could collect the insurance money then king pin Jimmy Kennedy had all of us that wad under there protect build it back the home was off of inside road I was very young when they lured me in to a life drugs I been in and out of prison my hol life thanks to them

Penny's picture

I just saw this on TV. I wonder how the parents have done since he's passed? And their other children - how have they fared out? Such a sad situation.

jenny's picture

He was murdered I was young when this happened but I had family on the department when this happened and remember talking and conversation about it! Some of those family members left the department not long after this due to hearing things they were not comfortable with. . When you are in the law in this small town there are many people who hands were dirty and they covered this up and kept it closed as for the family the father has since passed away his mother is still living and still searching for his killer which she will probably never get to know either! Fact is they showed up late at night with very little lighting to do a crime scene investigation way before forensics was popular and even now in 2016 they don't do much of that type of thing to know much about it! Someone may not have been found and convicted but they will pay!!!

The Watcher's picture

Stay out of the woods. Could be a crooked cop helping to cover a drug operation.

Anonymous's picture

you died not fight normey

kyle's picture

Yea smthng is definitely up. The sheriff admitted himself, that when he arrived he decided it was an accident.. what kinda investigation is that? And as for the dumb comments here, I.e. Aaron, some people are too ignorant to understand that there are A LOT of bad cops! Most cops are just the kids bullied n school anyways, and once they get that badge they go power crazy. That along with the fact that they are literally above the law is never a good thing. I mean seriously, some minimum wage jobs do a more thorough background check and drug testing than these southern community's do for their police.

Randy's picture

Kyle is a moron. It's obvious he was bullied in school now fights his battles on the Internet.

savage's picture

I watched it a few days ago and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know exactly what happened just sad

charlie ladner's picture

i am the brother of norman who was killed. i was only 5 years old at that time. after the episode aired. we had are gas station shot up with over 416 rounds of 9mm. then we had a bomb placed under my mothers car. we had to be home schooled because of this. my dad i passed away on 12/28/2003. we got the FBI involved later. they felt the sheriff was involved some how.

Anonymous's picture

I'm very sorry for your loss and what they have put your family through. I am sick of the corruption! Innocent people getting killed over greed and dirty politics. The sheriff around here is corrupt too. Seems everyone in power is when the 2 rapists get a lighter sentence than the brave person who shone a light on the coverup! I hope your family gets justice someday.

On your trail's picture

Actually the dad was involved with the local law enforcement agency and Boy skipped school that day. He observed the drug drop with those involved including his father......and ran but was overcome and subsuquentially was killed. Ranch, Joe, and Cagle covered it up. Man up and deal!!!!! This was nothing to do with the Corollos!!!!! His Dad didn't realize it was him until later. So sad for Charlotte.

tim castalian's picture

who r u? whoever u r u know 2 much to not have been involved, why don't u man up and deal......#guiltymfgonnaburninhellforkillinganinnocentchild......

On the trail's picture

I happened to ascertain that Ranch, Cagle, and Stuart was involved and the cover up. Boy's father was involved with the local law enforcement individuals and they were running drugs. On this specific day Boy was suppose to be in school however he and his friend.....stockstill skipped school. They ran across the plane that dropped the goods behind the store. Boy and his friend ran. Boy was struck from behind however his friend got away. Boy was killed and his friend ended up in a mental institution in Slidell. They got away with it. This had nothing to do with the Corolla family and everything to do with the Dixie Mafia.

Do rednecks really need airstrips???'s picture

Not far from there......up the road in in Hancock County is a private neighborhood called. White Cypress Lakes.....it has it's own security police. It has it's own private airstrips. They burn little piles of fire on bot sides of their strip. A really interesting but creepy place. This is Ladner country. Just saying......

On the trail's picture

History of this area.........
The Dixie mafia is big here.......it is supported by law enforcement agencies and goes high up. Look up Sheriff Leroy Hobbs. Mayor Pete Halat, Sheriff Ronnie Peterson...... For some brief history.....by the way...don't you think Boy's boots were a little too big for his feet? Does it appear that he came prepared to hunt that day....with his own hunting boots?

Not an accident's picture

It was not an accident. Boy had a one and one quarter inch laceration to the top vertex of his skull with a surrounding two inch diameter bruise. The laceration had maggots present. The entrance and exit wounds had mere larvae eggs. The oldest wound is the laceration of the vortex. The gunshot Wound is staged.

Pete's picture

Hi I live in the UK and the episode was shown on TV here last night 30th SEptember 2015 when was this programme originally aired.I have read all the comments and do not believe it was suicide.What happened to the guy who spoke to Mrs Ladner and basically threatened her after reading what Charlie Ladner wrote his family were hurt deely by blowing up there gas station and putting up the bomb under Mrs Ladners car Charlie if you read this my thoughts are with you and your family and sorry to hear of the passing of your DAd who passed away without knowing what really happened to his son

I just know's picture

Pete, the person that commented that he had paid off lorance lumpkin etc was telling the truth. While I have no idea who that person is; I know I do know him because my brother was dropping money off too at the same catfish place on rock ranch road. The basic of the story is the kid was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His father, along with the others named in the comments were drug dealers. They all grew "pot" and would grow several bunk crops to make lorance look really good when we would bust those crops. If you could go back to the early 80's and read our local newspaper picayune item you will see what I'm talking about. All the bunk crops were made to look like lorance really done something. Then in mid to late 90's, when lorance and Joe Stewart were out of office there were no more articles about large pot fields grown.

Zoe's picture

I think Norman killed himself. The authorities know what they are doing and if they thought it was a murder, they would have investigated the situation more thoroughly rather than leaving it alone. I'm sorry to say your son committed suicide.

lala's picture

Seems like you and I are the only sane people here.

You must not be from around here 's picture

If you think all this sounds crazy -then you aren't from around here. This is Deep South- you have to be smart, eyes open, & careful. People down here that are involved in all this are out in the community doing fundraisers, going to church, acting like good ole southern people. But they can make you disappear if you cross them and make your family think they were your best friend while doing it. That's why you should stay out of all that- bc people down south mean what they say and do it. You don't want to get tangled up with all that unless you're as rough and ballsy as they are. Most people posting on here may sound crazy because they are from here. They know this firsthand- they've either seen it, lived it, affected by it, or knew somebody tangled up in things like this. Don't make light of these comments unless you've lived around it. But don't think that everyone with rough edges down here must be involved in drug dealing bc they're not. Not everyone down here is corrupt...I've got Ladner blood in my veins, I know family members who have struggled and don't make the best choices, but I don't condone drugs, crime and drug dealing. Theres a lot of good drugfree people down here that can handle themselves and protect themselves like Dixie mafia, with enough crazy in the head to not back down, but a heart of gold. These are true men, they make the best soldiers and police officers, and they stand for right and wrong and they are out there keeping the peace so drugs and crime don't get out of hand. It's going to take one of those men to blow this case wide open. But this is not crazy people talking even if the stories sound crazy. ((Btw-If you are from around here...then you're either an ostrich (with your head in the sand) or really smart (to play dumb))!

I call bullcrap's picture

If law enforcement always did all they could and never covered up an investigation and you believe they were as thorough as they should've been and called all cases right without the influence of personal investment and biases then you must have rainbows coming out of your a**! I'm not hating on law enforcement but you can have 500 ones with hearts of gold and good intentions and one selfish, corrupt sob and this could happen. Let's let this happen to your son and you can sit back and say law enforcement does all they can...be sure to smile and wave and blow kisses if you see them sweeping stuff under the rug.

joey 's picture

Did they ever solved. This case.

Jen's picture

Penny, Norman's father died in 2003 http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=ladner&GSfn=norman... without ever knowing the truth.

His mother is still alive.

Ray 's picture

I believe whole heartedly this was a murder and a murder done with selfish intentions, and I do believe it was drug related and I believe the sheriff had all the evidence or witnessed it first hand. The reason I say this is were I live in Zama MS it was a man that went by the name Big Boy Williams. He owned what was know as Big Boys Bar. He was known to be a drug lord. With a air strip in a remote wooded area known as Happy Hollow. In Happy Hollow has been numerous bodies dug up and body parts found. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't have or was involved in this.

Anonymous's picture

This is a story of the Dixie Mafia...... Sheriffs Ranch Lumpkin, Ronnie Peterson, Joe Price, etc....have all protected the drugs coming in back then. Look up the murder charge against Sherff Lumpkin in St. Tammany Parish. He accidentally shot the assistant DA ofPearl River County over in Louisiana. This assistant was turning evidence over on Sheriff Lumpkin. His brief case came up missing out of the trunk of his car......and he was shot and killed (accidentally) by Sheriff Lumpkin. People were scared.

joey 's picture

Any updates on this

John smith's picture

I killed him sorry i was selling drugs and he saw me so i shot him

doug roberts's picture

norman lander is a victim of the MENA cocaine smuggling operation/MENA illegal drug smuggling cartel. bill and hillary clinton are major players in the MENA drug cartel. google/serch: the crimes of MENA. google/serch: barry seals. google/serch: allegations of CIA drug trafficking.

Keri's picture

I think he commited suicide and his parents are letting grief cloud their judgement bc they don't want to believe it.

1. If his parents believed he was "shot laying down" by an attacker, then how he would he have a bullet hole cleanly through his temple?

2. If he did walk in on this crooked Sheriff making a drug deal, why would the sheriff kill him? That would only make a bigger mess out of things and bring more attenion to it. He could have easily just intimidated the kid to keep quiet. It would have been his word (a law enforcement official with "connections") against a 17 year old kid, he could have easily denied it.

3. The mothers comment about how she started to worry at 7:00, even though her son doesn't usually come home until around 7-7:30 is inconsistent and just proves her perception of things is warped towards it being a violent murder.

Molly's picture

The answer to 1) He could have been laying down with his head turned after the head wound. Shot clean through the temple, which would explain why it ended up 2-2 1/2 inches in the ground under his head.

2) If there is corruption, coroner could also be involved to help cover up.

3) You ever heard anything about gut instinct or intuition? They say around 7-7:30. Maybe there were times he was early. But he was still punctual. If this is the big reason you debunk a potential murder, then you don't carry sound logic.

Truth 's picture

It was probably drug dealers or somebody robbed him. Basically hitting him in the head comma and shooting him when he's on the ground. That's why they found the bullets. And it's odd that the bullet came back differently. The police or the drug dealers could have been at the drop site and made it look like an accident or suicide. Or somebody just robbed him and shot him and took his money.

Shaquita's picture

I'm very sad that this happened to Norman and his family. Gosh, I hate this so much! My 17yr old sister told me about Norman last night and I wish there were something that I could do to help.

Cottonport 's picture

Lawrence Lumpkin sheriff of pearl river county ms back in the 80s is,was responsible for many terrible things,he use to check the female inmates out of the jail and get them drunk and high.he dealt drugs and fought dogs,the worst thing that he did was make me and my brother think that all of the drugs,woman,violence,and money were normal.my brother and I have been in jail ever since that monster got his hands on us.i don't know if he killed Norman Lander,but i know first hand that most of the stories being told here are true.

Erik Andrus's picture

I feel for Mrs. Charlette Ladner – given the interview, to me Mrs. Ladner was one of, if not the most - articulate, sincerest of people to give testimony in the history of the program. I feel if the Ladners believed their son committed suicide, then as his mother, Mrs. Ladner would have spent the rest of her life to prevent teen suicides; but as it stands, by her husband’s word, Norman Ladner was not unhappy or depressed. So it would ne natural for her to advocate for her son’s justice. This event has too many questions, and death ruled by suicide, in my opinion, is not an option.

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