If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.
Doris Baker Hartley was the only child of Brenda and
Danny Baker. She was confused by her daddy’s mental
war injuries, and manipulated by her mother’s religion.
The first fourteen years of her life were somewhat
normal years. She learned to live with the family’s
religious obsession, but she never fully bought into it.
Her later teenage years were extremely traumatic. The
trauma continued until she married May’s daddy, Ralph
Hartley in 1957. Doris battled the mental demons she
developed through the years, and during those battles she
learned that she was cut from a different stone. That was
what her mother and father said about her when she stopped
going to church at age 16. They couldn’t understand her behavior.
Religion was their source of life and redemption, but Doris
wanted no part of it. She turned to the butterflies for help,
and that was devil worship in her parent’s eyes.
Doris was raped when she was fifteen, and she never told
anyone about it. She blamed herself for making a mistake.
She trusted a family member who was not worthy of that
trust. He was older and she believed he could lie better
than anyone on the planet. He could make up a story, and
put the blame on her, and she couldn’t go through that
kind of torture, so she never told anyone what happened.
The family member was her dad’s foster brother, Bo.
Her “Uncle Bo” spent the first twelve years of his life in an
abusive home. He was the oldest child of Shelby and Trip
Richards. The Richards lived in poverty in White Bluff,
Tennessee. They were an incestuous, overweight, tobacco,
alcohol and drug addicted couple with three kids, Bowell,
Doswell and Sandra. The fact that Shelby and Trip were
brother and sister was not common knowledge around the
small community of White Bluff, because the couple was
raised in Waynesboro, Tennessee. The family members in
Waynesboro knew about their relationship, but they never
shared that information because most of them lived and
died in Wayne County, and having sex with a relative was
not an uncommon occurrence in certain parts of that rural
area. The Richards’ family had been practicing incest for
three generations. Most family members had physical issues
and brain disorders.
Shelby and Trip decided to start a new life in White Buff
in the late 1920s after their parents died suddenly in a
house fire. The fire was the result of a lightning strike one
Saturday morning. The Richards were living with their
folks and the kids in a four room shack at the time, but
they were out trying to sell the kids for food on the town
square when the storm hit. After the fire, they were homeless
so they asked their Uncle Seth if they could stay in the
old barn behind his trailer. After two weeks in the barn
the couple decided they had to get out of Waynesboro.
Their uncle was making them work on the farm for food
and they hated it. They were angry and broke, but Trip had
a plan. One Sunday morning Trip broke into his uncle’s
trailer and beat and robbed him. Seth wasn’t rich, but he
did have $150 dollars under his mattress, and a 1925
Ford Model T Runabout with a pickup body in the yard.
His uncle told him where the money and the keys to the
truck were when he couldn’t take the beating any longer.
Trip left his uncle bleeding profusely from the head.
Shelby jumped in the front of the truck while Trip chained the
kids in the back of the Runabout. After beating the kids
to keep them quiet, Trip slid behind the wheel and headed
northeast. Trip heard about White Bluff from a service
station attendant when they stopped in Columbia for gas
and water. The attendant told Trip how secluded White
Bluff was and how close it was to Nashville. The attendant
didn’t say anything about the kids he saw chained in the
back while he filled the tank. He didn’t want to get involved
after he saw the .22 rifle sitting between Trip and Shelby
when he cleaned the windshield.
After his conversation with the attendant, Trip believed he
could blend in with the folks around the little community
of White Bluff because it was so rural. He also liked it
because it was so close to Nashville. He believed he could
find a buyer for the kids there. Once the couple realized
they were in White Bluff. they drove around the back
roads, and found an old single wide trailer for rent. The old
trailer sat vacant on the Mundy farm for years. The trailer
was perfect; there was no one around for miles, and that
gave them the opportunity to live life the way they knew
how– secluded, and secretive. They treated their three
children like animals; not children. Merciless beatings,
food deprivation, and isolation were the only child-raising
tools they believed in, and they were comfortable using them.