Annie Laurie Hearin was kidnapped on July 26th, 1988. 72 year old Annie was the wife of Robert Hearin, one of the wealthiest men in the state of Mississippi. Robert Hearin had been president of a company called School Pictures. The company sold franchises to photographers throughout the United States to produce photo portraits of school children. Between 1981 and 1983, in an effort to collect money owed to them, School Pictures filed lawsuits against twelve franchise owners in eight states, including Florida.
A ransom note was discovered in the house, but not until Robert had already contacted the police. It demanded payment to twelve different people, all of whom had some connection to one of Robert Hearin’s companies. Witnesses noticed a white cargo van with Florida plates in the neighborhood that day. Police soon discovered that the twelve names on the kidnapper’s ransom note were the same twelve people who had been sued by School Pictures.
Robert Hearin called a press conference, and eight days later he received a letter in Annie’s handwriting. In response, Robert sent out checks totaling nearly one million dollars to the 12 people on the list. Half of the checks were returned.
An early suspect was Newton Alfred Wynn, who had returned one of the checks. Court documents reveal a strange story of how Wynn was responsible for mailing Annie’s letter to Robert, and Wynn was eventually convicted on conspiracy to kidnap, extortion and perjury. Annie’s remains have never been found.