From those he married, he demanded a superhuman innocence, in accordance with the pentecostal teachings of the Assembly of God. She whispered something and he answered, and she worked her way back through the crowd, beaming. Goddamn cops cleaned me out.”, The night after the funeral, the Killer was back at Hernando’s Hide-A-Way, with two girls at his side, singing: “Ah tol’ her when she lef’ me . . . The Ferriday funeral director said: “That is a symbol of the Catholic faith.” Jerry Lee took the cross from her hands. Brown, Lewis’ cousin and the bass player in his band. We had a lot in common, and we had fun together . I don’t even know ‘im. I’m not staying if you don’t. Jerry Lee Lewis, American singer and pianist whose virtuosity, ecstatic performances, and colorful personality made him a legendary rock music pioneer. She was over by the record shelf. foul . . “Perfect,” said Shawn. He confides, with something like pride, that the feds are planning to indict him, along with Jerry, on a tax charge. The money was great—sometimes $150 a night. He saw, up on her forearm, the row of angry little bruises, like someone had grabbed her hard. Sonny was going to explain to Jerry Lee the need for an inquest, but Jack McCauley took over from there. “The sheriffs? Lewis,” he said. I don’t know how many thousands he spent on it. “Come to think of it,” says Danny Phillips, the funeral director, “it looked like there was a hypodermic mark on the inside of her right arm, just under the armpit. Sure, it cost us. . Foul play doesn’t seem likely?’, “He said, ‘No likely about it. It was something more for a girl from Garden City, a suburb of little boxes built for the auto workers of the Fifties. Then he got mad, according to Shelley, and started knocking Shawn around. And so, the story was cooked up. Jerry! “It wasn’t my report,” says Ballard. “Mr. Shelley’s mother said the family would drive down, too, but Shawn insisted that they spring for one-way air fare. But he’d made that turn again and again since he was a boy in Ferriday, Louisiana. “No, sir, we woulda took her already,” said Sonny. And then he was there! . No one knew which drugs Shawn used, or even what all the drugs were. So DB’s was fine for the moment — great, in fact. . Shawn asked about seven times: “You’re going to come now, aren’t you?” Shawn said she’d call back the next day to make sure about the meeting. I called to tell you that Shawn didn’t wake up this morning.”. Sowell declined to offer a theory on the cause of Shawn Lewis’ death. Shawn’s family bought round-trip tickets to Memphis and got to the funeral home in Hernando for the viewing late Friday afternoon. Jerry Lee Lewis went to take courses at a private Christian university in Texas named Southwestern Assemblies of God University, but his association with the school ended before his graduation. He showed me some paper, showed me he was gonna clip it together. He sought out his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was also an unknown musician at the time. He and Jimmy learned Piano from Jerry. Find Judith Brown's memorial at By January, Ballard said he still didn’t have an analysis of traces in the syringe. But he thought he might bulldog the case for a while and find a wedge for a lawsuit. Shawn rode with Jerry in the limousine. “Go ahead and check her over,” said Sonny, and Matthew restarted the process with the woman’s delicate wrist. There was trouble from the start of Shawn’s marriage to the rock & roll legend. . . When Sonny looked up at last, his own eyes grew, his whole face seemed to grow larger, rounder, younger. And who cut the line? Jerry Lee’s friends were happy. Kenny Rodgers got up on the stage, took a mike and announced with wheezy emotion: “He’s here, folks. At first Jerry Lee’s calls seemed funny to her, like a card from someone she’d met traveling — they didn’t seem part of real life. He made Shawn tell us. Rock n’ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis and his former wife Myra Lewis share a laugh in this photo taken in 1956. “It was love at first sight,” Jerry recalled. And was there nothing left of them? A: Well, I asked Bill Ballard. One morning, she awoke to find Jerry and some of the band still drinking in another room of the house. She was crying as she moved down the hall and knocked at the door with the iron bars. Sometimes, Hernando’s owner, Kenny Rodgers, would get up to the mike, straighten his pearly tie under the vest of his gray business suit and announce: “Ladies an’ gennlemen! “No, not like that. Or did the methadone enter her body with the meal? When the prayers were said, Shawn’s father tucked a cross into her folded hands, and the casket was closed for the trip to Ferriday, Jerry Lee didn’t come to the viewing. The bed was very neat and did not appear to have been slept in. It might have been a suicide, or an accident. They couldn’ stack enough money in this room to make me put that stuff in my body. “How could you not get taken by it? . “I could so easily have said, ‘I’m J.W. . . . . And with more determination, he sought out the love of a woman, “a different kind of girl,” a woman who might have the strength to change him: Jerry Lee got out of the hospital and started calling Shawn. ” . McCauley used the phone from Jerry Lee’s kitchen to start planning with Sheriff Dink Sowell, who was just as eager to keep matters at a decorous hush. A couple of hours later, Sheriff Sowell called him into the house, told him about the autopsy plan. On another night, the Killer tried to crash his Lincoln Continental through the gates of Graceland, drunkenly waving a .38 pistol and threatening to blow Elvis away. Phoebe is from his third marriage to Myra Gale Brown. So the third time she came back, Shawn finally just grabbed her by the hair and pulled her down, and said, ‘He’s with me tonight. “I just looked at Shawn, and she asked me, ‘Did he hit you hard? I never signed anythin’ like that!” Did McCauley cut some deal with the neighbors? But somehow, in Garden City, Shawn never seemed to get much more. In 1957, 23-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis married Myra Gale Brown. anshe daid . You know, a hit on a joint or two, no problem. Never. Jay Clark did the writing. And whether I know what happened in the last twelve hours or the last two days before the death of Shawn Lewis, there is . Jerry wanted the autopsy and he wanted it in Memphis. Why did he say he sent Lottie there to wake her? . Jerry Lee took his hoard and departed in a black Cadillac. His father is Elmo Lewis, and his mother is Mamie Lewis. It didn’t. fixed the license, too. He’d signed out plenty of papers for that address on Malone Road. The Browns later had a son, Rusty Brown (b. And sometimes, the why just lingers sometimes.”. Q: You signed the death certificate, but you never saw the body? You just say, ‘See autopsy. But methadone hits the bloodstream within a half-hour of oral ingestion. The greates’ ennataina inna worl’ . . “He’s okay now. There was also bruises on the lower left arm and the upper right thigh. I kept saying, ‘Duck! Lewis had been married twice before. Or how did a canny twenty-five-year-old, “no stranger to drugs,” a woman who knew what sleeping pills were, who had used them one at a time with success, grow so careless as to swallow what Francisco described as “ten to twenty tablets” of a drug she’d never been known to use? . As a courtesy, they took along Jimmy Radford, the district attorney’s investigator, although it was pretty clear there wasn’t going to be any prosecution. “If Myra doesn’t go,” he told them, “I’m not going.”. If you don’t like it, you can always get divorced.’ I feel so guilty about that . ‘Look, Phoebe,’ Jerry said to their seven-year-old, ‘your mamma’s gone crazy. In a beery bachelorette party at Henry’s, Bev Lithgow asked Shawn why she was marrying Jerry Lee. His little dogs greeted him, yapping and licking, climbing up the front of his bathrobe. . winks. He grabs her by the front of her robe, and he hauls her off down the hall. Sure, it worked for him. Jerra. Once again, hard to say. He and Jerry Lee had agreed that the Killer would pay. The Killer had a party at Hernando’s hide-a-way to celebrate his forty-eighth birthday. A couple of other women were already up there. To me, I just can’t believe that girl just got to that bed and lay down and died. At 13:51 hours I advised Mr. Lewis that his manager J.W. McCauley was James Albert Riley’s main man, a sort of spokesman who kept Big Dog from shooting his feet in candidate forums and interviews. But it wasn’t just that: It was upscale, crowded with people who dressed and threw money around. But Creekmore Wright, the second man on the job, sure hadn’t seen any case this hot. “What I wanted was a baby in my arms, a home, a husband, a kitchen to cook in, a yard to raise roses. “No, it was really a shock. . .”. . But they’re tryin’ to make Jerry into some kind of scapegoat or somethin’. . Shawn knew she was looking good, in her jeans, cowboy boots and a huggy little white rabbit jacket. One girl in a loose flowered shirt left her seat for a fifteen-minute struggle to Jerry Lee’s right ear. “Myra never knew who would walk in the door in the guise of Jerry Lee Lewis,” she wrote in her 1982 book, Great Balls of Fire. . . “Come to think of it,” says Sonny, “I don’t recall Jack introducing himself. . . So I just put on the certificate, “See autopsy.”. Whitten had arrived but would not be allowed to enter the residence until the investigation was completed. It was better, sort of, back in Nesbit, Mississippi, in the big brick house — at least you could relax. I couldn’t tell my father. “She had been up during the day,” noted Sowell in explanation of how she might have lain down on a neat bed. “In the business, it’s called ‘juice.'”. There were basic forensic procedures incomplete: There were drugs by the scoopful in the big brick house on Malone Road. “It seems incomplete,” said the examiner, Greg Kauffman. “And Jerry gave it to them—well, I did, I opened my mouth. It was the manager, or maybe the manager’s brother, selected a pair and wiped’em off, cleaned the lenses, you know, doin’ all his thinking for him. It started to sink in on Shawn’s mother after the hymns, about ten minutes into the service, when Jerry Lee walked into the church and everything paused while he made his way up to the front pew. Lottie Jackson stripped those sheets. She was too late, he told her. That could get ugly, too, like the time some patrons left the floor in disgust when Jerry Lee cut off another song. Her husband, Robert Kleinhans, took the receiver and the scant information Pam could supply. One time they all of’em came down and they went to the airport, called up, and they didn’t even have no money to get home. got the judge.) You know, things goin’ on, or business, workin’, things like that. A: The death certificate signed, that don’t mean nothin’. “Well, there may be things you didn’t know about,” her mother said. It almost wasn’t like work. .” Instead, it was Shawn who went. "Jay" Brown. It could be caused by a drug overdose, or it could be caused by drowning, strangulation, suffocation, asphyxiation, by trauma to the head or other parts of the body.” These possibilities can be tested, but the tests were either not performed or not reported. . And the way he’d take your head off for the smallest little thing, start shouting and get red all the way up to his crewcut, no one asked Jack. Shawn and Shelley sat in the sun at the pool, until Jerry Lee came out, looking mean and slurring his words. Very understanding. Then he just looked at us really crazy and walked off into the house again. It gets you in a damn magazine with this Jerry Lee Lewis shit to fuck up your whole damn life. And through it all, the patterns held: When his troubles would mount, when he felt need of solace, Jerry Lee reached out to another woman, demanding uncompromising devotion. She was connivin’. McCauley, 48, certainly was the sharpest deputy in DeSoto County: a college man, a Yankee transplanted to Mississippi, a man who said he’d made a small fortune on developments like the industrial park in the northeast corner of the county. Get walkin’.” He mumbled something about her being trouble. “So I told the sheriff, and the sheriff had him let in.”, Just as well, for the state men wanted to get Jerry Lee out of the house. Of course, girls were never a problem for the Killer. As one prominent citizen of Hernando, the DeSoto county seat, put it: “What you got up there is one of two things — either drug money or Memphis money, and we don’t want either one in our county.” So, from his office at the jail, Sowell must have had another requisite in mind, although it didn’t need saying: Big Dog Riley, sheriff-to-be, had to stay well away from this case. . He’d try to stray from the subject of death. . Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThirteen year old Myra Gale Brown sitting on Jerry Lee Lewis’ lap. . Shawn was twenty-three. “I’ve tried to make it clear,” he said, “that the only reason for the grand-jury inquiry is to try to dispel some of the suspicion. Shawn’s mother screamed and dropped the phone. Fluid in the lungs. Jerry Lee Lewis singing some of his greatest hits live at Church Street Station at the Cheyenne Saloon in Orlando, Florida. But no one needed more reports to shatter the Killer’s fragile story. . Who tried to clean her up? Jaren was dead and Jerry was free, and he wanted Shawn to be his. In interviews after he was spared, Jerry Lee called it “the turning point in my life.”. He wasn’t weepy. By day, he’d play gospel piano for the faithful in the Texas Street Assembly of God — then he’d sneak off to a tonk on the black side of town to revel in the devil’s music. But when the record sold 10,000 copies a day, he forgot his old vows to use the money to build a church to the Lord. So when he finally left his hospital bed, Jerry Lee found his fear of the Lord again. . . Lewis, your wife . . said, and he even turned away from the stage for a moment. “I made a phone call,” he says, with evident pride. Could it be just a big dinner, or liquid that she drank herself? It sort of came with the territory, as a Ballard: His father had been vice-president of the Bank of Hernando; now his brother was bank president. Shawn’s mother might have stopped it, or at least held it up. /Ah’d have anothuh in her bed . Or a shot from a bottle of schnapps — okay, I’d look the other way.” Shawn loved working there. She loved the people. God, they never slept. Coincidentally, Jerry Lee has cited Al Jolson as one of his influences. Shawn said: “Oh, stay up a little longer.” Shelley didn’t want to be put on the spot. . 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