by Robert A. Waters
On January 29, 1989, Robert F. McRae, 72, and his wife, Katherine, 70, were found murdered in their Graceville, Florida home. Neighborhood children who decided to visit the couple found two ski masks in the back yard. Running to a neighbor’s house, they reported the unusual find. Investigators from the Graceville Police Department soon arrived and found the couple dead.
Katherine had been thumb-cuffed with her hands behind her back. She and Robert had each been shot once in the back of the head. According to the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the type of bullet used in the attack was unusual, at least in rural Florida: a 124 grain, 9mm, Israeli T.Z.Z. cartridge. (Not many run-of-the-mill burglars use such a round.) An Uzi-type firearm had been used.
Robert, a wealthy executive, often carried large sums of cash. The killers took money from his wallet, as well as Katherine’s diamond ring, but left other valuables behind. Detectives assured the media that robbery was a secondary motive--execution of the couple seemed to be the driving cause.
On October 15, 1989, two hundred miles to the north, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Acie Worthy, 67, and his wife, Carolyn, 54, met the same fate as the McRaes. As they returned home from church that Sunday evening, gunmen ambushed the couple in their driveway. The killers then dragged Acie and Carolyn into the residence and set it on fire.
Like Robert and Katherine McRae, the Worthy family was wealthy. They were in the process of building a 10,000 square foot house, and had been living in a rental home.
Acie had fought in World War II, and served as an officer for the Bessemer Veterans of Foreign Wars, while Carolyn was director of the Lakeview Baptist Church choir. Relatives said she sometimes wore jewelry worth more than $50,000.
The killer stole jewelry and cash from the Alabama couple, but left other valuable items.
The bullets used in the crime were 124 grain, 9mm, Israeli T.Z.Z. cartridges.
Because of this and other evidence, authorities are certain the murders are linked. Several agencies, including the FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation have worked the cases. Investigators say they’ve eliminated the possibility of “contract” killers. They believe that more than one person committed the crimes. Detectives also claim to have unreleased incontrovertible evidence the four murders were committed by the same people.
Police believe the murderers planned the crimes in meticulous detail. (Four months earlier, an unidentified man dressed in camouflage clothing had been spotted watching the Worthy home with a scope.)
After 24 years, the cases are still open. If you know anything about this case, contact SAS Tommy Ford, FDLE, 850-767-3490.
Meanwhile, the families still grieve, and wait for justice.