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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2002

Playwright Beth Henley’s mother stabbed to death

Oct. 25, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. — (AP) A convicted felon on probation has been charged with capital murder for the stabbing death yesterday of Mississippi stage actress Lydy Becker Caldwell, mother of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley.

Willie Earl Wilson, 33, was arrested 10 minutes after the 74-year-old Caldwell died, said police spokesman Robert Graham.

“Wilson gained entry to Caldwell’s home through a side door that was unlocked,” Graham said. “He beat and stabbed her, stole money out of her house and drove away in her silver 2000 Buick LeSabre.”

Police found Caldwell in an upstairs bedroom after receiving an anonymous call reporting trouble at the home, Graham said.

Funeral services are 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 26) at St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson with burial in Lakewood Memorial Park.

A spokesman for Beth Henley, a Jackson native whose works include Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest, said Thursday the playwright was informed of her mother’s death in a telephone call to her California home.

Wilson was arrested after an officer spotted a vehicle fitting the description of Caldwell’s car, Graham said.

“He stopped the driver and took him into custody,” Graham said.

Wilson has a long criminal history.

Related articles from The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi)
Lydy Caldwell beaten, stabbed during break-in; felon arrested (25 Oct. 2002)
‘I can't imagine a world without her’ (25 Oct. 2002)


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