Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Grandview

March 8, 2010

Family still looking for information on missing man

Where have you gone, George White?

Your family is still looking for you after 35 years.

And while they‘re on the subject, they wouldn’t mind knowing what happened to James Durwood Grisham, either.

White and Grisham were reportedly friends, both residing with their families in Grandview in the mid ’70s.

White was a veterinarian and Grisham an ex-convict on parole from the federal prison system.

They were believed to have disappeared about the same time in early September 1975.

White was never found. Grisham’s remains were located Dec. 27, 1975, near Parker between Cleburne and Grandview.

White relative Stephen Irwin, a professor at Auburn University, contacted the Times-Review on Thursday to inquire about both subjects.

He said he hasn’t had much luck seeking information through law enforcement channels.

“I filed a freedom of information request with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, but they could not find any records of the incident,” Irwin said. “They said that a chemical spill in the 1980s destroyed all their records.”

Sheriff Bob Alford confirmed Friday that physical evidence and case files from 1975 do not exist.

Most of what he’s learned, Irvin said, has been passed down through family lore.

“In a nutshell, George disappeared, and no one knows what happened to him,” Irwin said. “He was a vet living in Grandview. He was married. He had an acquaintance with Grisham, though White’s wife said she didn’t know Grisham.

“White was supposedly conducting embryo research and going to cattle auctions. Grisham was paroled in ’73 after going to the penitentiary in the ’60s for selling marijuana to an undercover agent in Oklahoma City.

“White’s wife didn’t know what they could have been doing together, but they were seen leaving a bank together. The story is that White may have sold a horse to Grisham, and Grisham owed him money. Another story is that White and Grisham were seen with a third person in a truck. I know, this is like a Hollywood script.”

According to family lore, White’s wife received a letter from her husband two days after he disappeared.

The letter said, “I’m sorry about what happened. Go see your father,” Irwin said.  “I was trying to see if the letter still existed, but the records at the sheriff’s office there are gone.”

The FBI began looking for Grisham because he missed a parole hearing, Irvin said.

Presumably, the FBI has a file on Grisham.

“I’m hoping they’ll release whatever they found,” Irvin said. “Everybody has a story and opinion on what happened. A lot of people think White went to Mexico. He’s never been declared dead. If he were alive today, he’d be 67 or 68.”

A story in the Dec. 28, 1975, Times-Review said, “An investigation was underway Saturday following the discovery of a badly decomposed body of what appeared to be a man just off Farm [Road] 916 about three miles east of Parker in the south part of the county.

“The body was found in a briar patch on the Willie T. Basham farm on the north side of Farm 916. Sheriff Stuart Huffman and deputies Jack Rosiere, Jearl Godwin and Paula McDonald responded to the call.

“Justice of the Peace Vernon Asher could not make an identification, as only a small amount of change and a pocket knife were found in the overalls in which the person was dressed. The feet were in boots.

Sheriff Huffman said no evidence of foul play was found at the scene, but a full investigation will be made. Some vehicle tracks were found a few feet from the body.”

On Dec. 31 the Times-Review reported, “The body of a man found last Saturday in a briar patch on a farm in the south part of Johnson County was identified Tuesday as that of James Durwood Grisham, 45, of Rt. 1, Box 108B, Fort Worth.

“An autopsy was performed, and identification was made by dental records. A spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Homicide Division told the Times-Review that Grisham was reported missing Sept. 3, 1975, the information coming from his wife.

“An FBI agent said Grisham was wanted as a parole violator, having previously been convicted of transporting marijuana.”

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