Get the latest updates on NC State's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and access resources to stay informed. Learn more here.
Timeline and Map of Events in the Romey Murders
The following timeline and interactive map were prepared by Khayrallah Center Senior Researcher, Marjorie Stevens. The map was compiled from the 1926 Lake City Directory and the timeline was derived from three sources based on eye witness accounts. Each eye witness account is subject to strong bias. Not all things noted in the timeline are proven facts. The sources were:
- Farid Rizk report to Al-Hoda newspaper
- Columbia Gazette, Inquest Proceedings of the Romeo Case, 21 May 1929
- Emeline Romey Stewart, “The Killing,” written in 1968
May 9 (Thursday)
- Icer Romey car accident on Lake De Soto roundabout
May 10 (Friday)
- Hasna called Chief Baker a liar for not paying for car repairs
May 14 (Tuesday)
- Chief Baker and officer Davis harassed Hasna Romey at her store about vegetables on the sidewalk.
May 16 (Thursday)
- 4 police officers including Baker responded to a call from Nola Romey and went to the Romey store. The altercation resulting in Baker’s injury and Hasna’s death ensued.
May 17 (Friday)
- Hasna Romey died around midnight
- Nola Romey was removed from jail and his dead body left in a ditch. (It is unclear whether he died in jail and was taken out and shot and left, or if he was alive when taken from jail)
May 19 (Sunday)
- Hasna and Nola buried in Valdosta, GA
May 9 (Thursday)
- Icer Romey and his two sisters, Emeline and Leila, were in their car driving around Lake De Soto’s one way roundabout. Another car driven by two men, Diamond and Hodges, suddenly appeared driving in the wrong direction and hit them. Two policemen, including officer Horton, responded to the accident. They later determined that the car the two men drove, had Alabama plates and was a stolen vehicle.
- Police Chief Baker told Icer that he would pay for the car repairs from the money found on the two men who caused the accident.
May 10 (Friday)
- Icer went to pick his car up from the maintenance, but the shop refused to give him the car unless he paid or provided a note from police.
- Icer went to see the police chief but Baker denied promising to pay the expenses.
- Hasna Romey called Chief Baker to talk about the matter but he denied making the promise.
- Hasna Romey confronted Baker on the street (the Romey store and home was six and a half blocks north of the police station). Baker continued to deny making the promise. Hasna called him a liar.
- (A later report by the Arabic press Al-Hoda notes that it is possible Icer lied to his mother about Chief Baker’s promise to reimburse him for the car damage).
May 14 (Tuesday)
- Nola Romey was in Tampa getting a load of fresh fruit for his store.
- Hasna brought a cone shaped basket of greens onto the sidewalk in front of the store to rinse with water.
- Chief Baker and officer Davis went to the Romey store asking for Nola or Icer. They were told the two men weren’t there. They told Hasna to take “the damn garbage” (fruits and legumes) off the street and inside the store. Hasna refused. One of the officers kicked the melons breaking them.
- Baker and Davis took Hasna against her will to their police car across the street to take her to the station.
The pharmacist from across the street, “Dr. Label” complained that this is not how a woman should be treated and objected to their treatment of Hasna.
- Emeline Romey Stewart recalled that it was Dr. Edwards, the optometrist from the store beside the Romey’s, who intervened.
- Chief Baker told Hasna to have Nola call him when he returned to town to discuss the hamper of greens.
- Hasna told her children Icer and Emeline not to tell their father what had happened. She called Ellis Moses and told him of the incident.
May 16 (Thursday)
- Somewhere between Tampa and Lake City, Ellis Moses conveyed what had happened between Hasna Romey and police to Nola.
- An African American man who accompanied Nola alleged that Nola subsequently bought a bottle of alcohol and drank the whole thing. No one else mentioned this detail so Rizk does not consider it to be true.
- Icer, Emeline, Lucile, and Leila, went to the movies, leaving their mother alone in the store.
- 08:15 PM → sunset in Lake City on 16 May 1929 (source google results)
08:30 PM → Nola Romey returned from Tampa.
- Hasna or Icer told him about the events, though he already knew.
- Nola became angry and called chief Baker “immediately” and dared him to drag him into the street like he had done to his wife. American papers claim that Romey told Baker he had put the produce back out onto the street and dares Baker to come remove it again.
- Hasna tried to prevent Nola from angering police, and called Mrs. Ellis (Fannie) Moses to come to the store.
- Hasna moved their gun from its usual location and hid it in the back of the store.
- When Fannie Moses arrived, she criticized Nola for angering police
- Nola called police again “nicely” and asked when they would arrive at the store.
9:00 PM → 4 policemen (John F. Baker, Leo Cox, Arlington Dennard, James Arthur Hall) arrived at the store
- Arabic Report (interview of Syrian witnesses conducted by Syrian attorney) states that police officers shot at the front door to intimidate the couple as they went inside, one officer went around the counter and hit Nola with the butt of a gun on the head and he fell to the ground. Shots continued to be fired around the store. Hasna saw Nola on the floor, retrieved the gun, and shot Baker in the back, he turned, and she shot him in the left shoulder. Baker took out his gun and shot her in the arm. A different officer, (Leo Cox according to letter to the governor) shot at her four times and she fell to the ground.
- American Inquest (interview of police officers by city hired lawyer) states that Nola Romey was walking on the street rambling when police arrived saying something about “killing Baker.” When police arrived, the couple retreated into the store. Police entered and said they were going to take Nola. Nola came out from behind the counter and Baker and Dennard began to escort him out when the first shot was fired (by Hasna who came out of the back of the store). She shot multiple times and hit Baker in the right arm. He shot back until she fell. No mention is made of other shooters.
- Meanwhile → At the movie theater, boys came in and said in loud voices that police were at the Romey store and everyone should come see the spectacle. Icer quickly rushed to the store leaving the girls to follow. Emeline took her sisters and went in the other direction to the nearby Moses store. She left her sisters with her cousin Sallie and went to the Romey store.
- Officer Davis, standing next to Hasna, warned Icer that he would be shot if he stayed.
- Different Stories
- Police took Baker to the hospital.
- An officer took Nola, who was unconscious and bleeding, to the city prison.
- Emeline Romey arrived on the scene. She described a crowd of citizens rushing to the scene to gawk. She saw her father’s African-American truck driver running away in fear from the scene. The store was in shambles with glass broken and items knocked off the shelves behind the counter. The truck load of fruit was dumped in the street. Officers were beating Icer on the floor with black sticks.
The same officer who had taken Nola returned to the store and took Icer to the county prison in the same vehicle, the back seat of which was covered in blood (presumably from Nola’s head injury). They hit Icer on the head.
- Policemen, Hall, Davis, and Leo Cox, were in the car.
- The officers hit Icer many time in the car, including on the head with gun butts.
- Icer claimed Cox said “you are black, cursed by God, and you attend the same school as my kids...we wanted to kill you long time ago, and we will do this now, but tonight we will kill your father, and you come next.”
09:30 - 10:00 PM → Hasna was taken to the hospital (inferred). Fannie Moses stayed with her.
- Ellis Moses claimed that Chief Baker passed her while there and said, “this bitch didn’t die yet?”
- A member of the Moses family arrived at the store and drove Emeline, Leila, and Lucille to the Moses home.
- 10:00 PM → Dr. Bates tended Nola Romey in the city jail. Bates later told the family (after Nola’s death) that he had not believed his injuries to be life threatening.
- 10:30 PM → Cox came to the county jail and asked the guard Horace M. Stevens to tell Icer that his parents were doing well in the hospital. Then Icer fell asleep.
- 11:00 - 11:30 AM (PM?) → policemen Dennard, Davis, Hall, and Cox visited Icer at the county jail and Dennard said: “we are going to kill your old man tonight.”
- 11:30 PM → African-American “youths,” Joe and John Foster, were admitted to the city jail for being drunk. They later claimed that they had not seen or heard anything related to Romey being taken from the jail.
May 17 (Friday)
- 12:00 AM → Elias Lahood arrived at the Moses home from Lake City. He spoke with a doctor “Evans” there tending the children who claimed he had seen to Nola’s wounds in prison, shaved his head and made stitches. Nola had more than twelve wounds.
- 12:00 AM - 01:00 AM → Hasna Romey died in the hospital 3 hours after arriving.
12:00 AM - 01:00 AM (about) → Emeline Romey and Sallie Moses drove to the city jail to speak to Nola.
- Nola said “what do you want? Get out of here.” The girls later heard him say “Kaisar, Kaisar” then he was suddenly silent.
- Emeline describes a more thorough conversation in which she and Sallie told Nola about Icer, and Nola said he had a lot of bruises but was alright. The girls did not yet know about Hasna, and they left Nola seemingly “alright.”
- 01:00 AM (about) → Fannie Moses returned to the Moses home with news that Hasna had died.
- Throughout the night → Syrian relatives from Valdosta arrived at the Moses home.
- Local Friends notified the Moses family that white robed men had been seen downtown.
04:00 AM → Officers Horton and Davis who were “on that beat” (on patrol?) saw the lights burning in the city jail.
- Judge Guy Gillem suggested Romey was probably taken out of jail about this time.
05:00 AM → Officers Horton and Davis went to the city jail to turn off the lights and found that the door had been pried open and Romey was gone. They immediately notified Sheriff Douglass.
- Douglass sent officers out to search for the mob and allegedly catch them before they could do harm. Apparently two officers searched on the Fort White Rd. but “instead of taking the road to the right beyond the home of F.F. Bardin, turned to the left, otherwise might have caught up with the mob.”
06:00 AM → Spencer Colson, a farmer, found Nola Romey’s body in a ditch 2-3 miles outside of Lake City on the Fort White Road “in a ditch down the hill just beyond the little settlement.” Colson had been coming into town to deliver milk.
- When Nola’s body was found, there was no sign of a shaved head or stitches conflicting with Dr. Evan’s account.
- 07:30 AM → The Moses household was unaware of Nola’s fate. A person stopped by and told them not to leave the house for fear of a mob that had been spotted outside of town. Fannie Moses called the undertaker to discuss Hasna’s body and learned that Nola’s body had been brought there in a wagon.
- 08:30 AM → Ernest Weinhovel and Horace Stevens (jail warden) talked to Icer. Stevens told Icer “they killed your father last night.”
- 10:56 AM → George Lahood of Valdosta sent a telegraph to Governor Carlton of Florida asking him to demand that Icer Romey be removed from the jail in Lake City to a jail in Tallahassee for his own protection from potential mob violence. Emeline Romey said that a relative who had come to the Moses home contacted the governor that morning so it is possible George Lahood had traveled to the Moses home and sent the telegraph from Lake City.
- Weinhovel released Icer from prison and warned that people may be outside.
- Relatives took Icer to Ellis Moses’s house.
- Afternoon → Relatives took Icer to Valdosta, and he cried the entire way.
- 04:21 PM → Sheriff Douglass responded to Governor Carlton’s telegraph stating that Icer was released from jail that morning and that the coroner’s jury ruled that Mrs. Romey’s death was determined to be at the hands of Chief Baker who acted in self defense, and Mr. Romey’s at the hands of people unknown to the jury.
May 19 (Sunday)
- Hasna and Nola were buried in Valdosta.
A few months later, Ellis Moses, his family, and the Romey children moved to Birmingham, Alabama where Ellis had many acquaintances and family. Within a couple years, they returned to Lake City.