The Butterfly Murder

April 12th, 1934. Shreveport, LA. Bryan “Bunce” Napier, better known by an alias, Fred Lockhart, was wandering through the streets as usual, trying to make ends meet during the difficult depression. He’d sometimes go door-to-door trying to sell paper butterflies for a nickel. While making his way through the city he spots the recently engaged Maggie Mae Giffin. At just 14-years-old, Maggie was combing the streets searching for work. She was on a mission to help pay for her upcoming wedding. She wanted things to be perfect and thought getting a job would help things move along. 

 "Bunce" Napier the wide-eyed man who sold paper butterflies for a nickel.

"Bunce" Napier the wide-eyed man who sold paper butterflies for a nickel.

As fate would have it, the two would meet. Maggie lived near a homeless encampment that Napier resided at. He offered the young girl work and insisted she start immediately. The man was known to be eccentric or weird within the neighborhood but his offering’s seemed plausible. Maggie’s mother did not approve of the man but reluctantly gave her approval. Napier or Mr. Lockhart as what he went by, would escort Maggie into a nearby wooded area. There he proceeded to sexually assault his young victim. Once complete he began to beat and slash the girl’s the face. He then stabbed her multiple times, nearly decapitating her. He would end the ordeal by covering the body with nearby debris and attempting to set her corpse on fire. Maggie was brutally murdered for no reason.

3 days would pass before the truth would come to light. On April 15th, her charred remains would be discovered by some fisherman getting ready to set out for the day and it was soon realized that Napier was the culprit due to him leaving personal effects at the crime scene. Napier tried to escape but was soon caught across the state in the town of Tallulah. Once brought back, he’d soon confessed. His trial started almost a week later and was immediately frightened as the town formed a mob and intended to get vengeance for the young victim. The mob was forced to disperse by the National Guard as Napier cowered in a cell. Once the coast was clear and damage assessed, the mob had kicked in multiple doors, broke numerous windows and even injured a judge after a rock had struck him in court.

 Maggie Mae Giffin

Maggie Mae Giffin

It took no time at all to find Napier guilty of the crime. In just 36 days, the short investigation was complete and he was sentenced to death by hanging for his crimes. On May 18th, 1934, Bryan “Bunce” Napier would be one of the last few to be executed by public hanging in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Was this enough time for a thorough investigation or had the town simply got caught up with the tragic death of an innocent girl. Despite the evidence pointing to guilt, the amount of time leading up to the execution is staggering when compared to today’s standards. Regardless of the time spent, Napier was marched up the wooden steps of the gallows in front of a thirsty crowd. A hood placed over his head, followed by a length of rope. Before pulling the plunger Napier exclaimed to the onlookers that he would see his victim in heaven. He would be dead minutes later.

It is also worth noting that even though Napier was executed for the crime against Maggie Mae Giffin, he was also suspected in the death of his stepson and was considered in the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan. A man, Leo Frank, was quickly lynched for the crime but many believe Napier’s involvement, claiming he can be seen in an image during the lynching though it has never been confirmed. Napier still resides in Shreveport, LA. in the Greenwood cemetery where he will remain.