Mary Kay Hampton

St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
Date of Crime:  December 31, 1959

Mary Kathryn Hampton was convicted of the murders of Benjamin Yount and Hermine Fielder. Hampton was 16 in 1958 when she met a much older Emmitt Monroe Spencer in Kentucky. Spencer did not tell her that he had just finished serving a 12-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Hampton became Spencer's sweetheart and traveling companion, and eventually the mother of his son. On April 14, 1960, Spencer, Hampton, and a hitchhiker were stopped by a Florida highway patrol officer. The officer became suspicious of Spencer and ordered the three out of the car. After the three were out, Spencer went back to the car, grabbed a gun, and shot and wounded the officer. He then took off in the car, but after a chase, he was apprehended 30 miles away.

Police found that Spencer's car belonged a Key West man named John T. Keen. When police went to inform Keen that they recovered his car, they found him beaten to death. Spencer was charged in this murder and Hampton's testimony against him at trial sent him to the death house. Following this conviction Spencer blamed Hampton and another person, Roger Hall, for an Idaho murder, but Hampton implicated Spencer in it. Hall was acquitted and charges against Hampton were dismissed.

Spencer then implicated himself and Hampton in the Louisiana murders of Benjamin Yount and Hermine Fielder. On Dec 31, 1959, Yount was found shot and bleeding to death in the Speak Easy Bar near Boutte, LA. Fielder, the bar owner, was missing. Yount died Jan. 2, 1960 without regaining consciousness. Fielder's body was found two days later about 75 miles west of Boutte. She had also been shot. Since there was a rainstorm on the night of Jan. 2 and Fielder's body, clothes, and purse were dry, she appeared to have been dumped at the location within a day or so of her finding.

Hampton was arrested in Feb. 1961 and brought to Louisiana. The police interrogated her for 43 days before she finally cracked and gave a confession to these murders. She pleaded guilty to the crimes though there was no formal confession, statements, or other evidence which explained her role in the murders. Following her conviction she let it be known that she had confessed falsely.

When word reached Spencer that some people believed her claim of innocence, he reportedly said, “I'll get that bitch if it's the last thing I do.” He then implicated Hampton and others in a Miami murder that occurred on Dec. 15, 1959. Spencer's statements about this murder were shown to be false and caused his prior statements about the Yount-Fielder murders to be looked at more closely by Miami homicide detective Warren D. Holmes and by Miami Herald reporter Gene Miller. As a result, much evidence was accumulated of Hampton's innocence. Spencer had given details about the murders that showed an ignorance of actual facts and he had gotten a traffic citation in Florida just hours after Yount's shooting.

Hampton accepted a commutation of her sentence on Sept. 30, 1966 which allowed her to be immediately paroled. Apparently angered by Hampton's release, Spencer went and testified before a grand jury in Nov. 1966, accusing Hampton of another murder in Florida. Hampton was arrested for it, but her indictment was voided due to faulty wording. Hampton's lawyer F. Lee Bailey then argued before the grand jury for three days as to why Spencer's testimony was not to be believed. The grand jury deliberated for only 15 minutes before refusing to return an indictment against Hampton.  [12/10]


References:  Murderer or Liar?, In Spite of Innocence, News Article

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Louisiana Cases