WASHINGTON COUNTY, Mo. – Their parents were murdered in Missouri, but the state no longer considers them victims. Now the convicted killer has a chance for parole.
“I don’t think it’s right,” said Jim Crane. “I think they should let all of the victims speak.”
Crane said the state no longer considers him a victim. His mother and stepfather, Thomas Jasper Hayes and Dorothy Hayes, were executed inside their Washington County bar in 1967.
Elmer Hayes confessed to the killing.
“They think he just went in there to rob them, took the money they had in the register, and made them both lay on the floor, and shot them,” Crane said.
Crane’s no longer considered a victim because Hayes completed his time for both life sentences. He only remains in prison for what happened after he escaped in 1979. He robbed a bank, kidnapped a teenaged girl, and shot Florissant Police Sgt. Jay Noser eight times.
Noser’s daughter, Cindy Shaw, said she still remembers that day.
“Vividly,” she said. “…Like it was yesterday.”
Shaw was 22 when she got the call her dad was shot. Hayes fired some of the shots into Sgt. Noser at point-blank range.
“I think I remember the most walking into that room and seeing the blood coming out of his head, his arms, everywhere, and he was just shaking and shaking…,” she said. “The doctor said, ‘Say your goodbyes. Say what you need to say.’”
Noser survived with three bullets left in his body – one of them lodged in his head.
“(My dad) was 215 pounds when he was shot and his weight went to 140,” Shaw said. “He was a skeleton of a man. The nightmares – he had nightmares for years. He lost ribs, his spleen.”
Noser never fully recovered and died in 2008. His death certificate said he died from “infections related to gunshot wounds.”
“The day he died – that was my promise to him – that I would do whatever I needed to do to keep this man in prison,” Shaw said. “It scares me. How many life sentences does someone have to get before life means life? How many?”
Hayes’ parole hearing was June 20, 39 years to the day of the Noser shooting.
Shaw read a letter to Elmer Hayes, which said, in part, “Dad suffered so much because of your actions. His life was never the same. If you could ask my dad that question as to why, he would tell you it was part of his job to protect people and serve his community, which is what he did that day, and knowing him he would do it all again.”
Shaw was the only victim allowed to speak.
After every parole hearing, she gathers with Jim Crane and his family. She includes them; since the state no longer will.
After this latest parole hearing, the group also included Crane’s sister, Donna Crawford, who joined by speakerphone.
“It breaks my heart that I couldn’t be there,” she said.
“You were with us, don’t you worry,” Shaw said. “I spoke enough for everybody.”
Shaw and Crawford said they learned during the hearing that Hayes raped a 30-year-old woman when he was just 12 years of age.
“I knew he was in trouble ever since he was around 12,” Crawford said.
Fox 2 contacted prison officials to ask Elmer Hayes if he wanted to talk. He did not respond. The parole board will decide within the next two months whether or not to release Hayes, who’s now in his 70s.
“He said the only reason he wanted out is so that he could find a place to die outside those prison walls,” Shaw said.
“Well, I don’t think he needs that luxury,” Crawford said.