By Carliana Harris
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.
At 33 years old, William Arthur Haynor held a master’s degree in Theology and was the regional director of the Scripto Corporation with two beautiful children and a wife. Things appeared to be going well for the Haynor family. However, rumors and revolving turmoil surrounding William’s infidelity contrasted the outward projection of a life perfectly configured.
Sheri Prather openly shares her knowledge of her parents disjointed marital relationship, reflecting “he was very well liked. Women, unfortunately for my mom, loved him.”
On February 19, 1975, William Haynor’s body was found in Coppell, Texas. The uncertainty of circumstances leading to his death are abundant.
“I wish I could separate all the rumors that are going around,” Police Chief Richard Nurse said, as was reported in the Ludington Daily News just days following the incident.
Sheri shares with Project: Cold Case the various “could’ve been” theories with rhythmic recollection as they have been the ambient track to her pursuit in finding answers for her father. She’s heard all the stories – mistaken identity, real estate land swindle lawsuit, rage-filled significant others from potential affairs, and even her own mother being involved. In fact, Sheri admits the countless times she’s speculated that her mother, Toni Lee, was responsible for her father’s murder.
The idea that her mother was at fault is a tough concept to grasp for Sheri Prather. Knowing what actually happened on that fateful February day is most important to her, even if it means compromising the relationship she had with her now-late mother. “I just want to know,” Sheri sighed, collecting her thoughts.
Back to the day the Haynor family was forever changed. “There was a knock at the door. My mother went to answer the door,” Sheri recalled of the images sheared into her mind forever, having only been 9 years old at the time. “I was behind her. There were two police officers at the door. Really, nothing was said, but she passed out.”
Sheri says her pursuit of information has led her consistently back to the Coppell Police Department, where she has been able to speak with an officer about her dad’s case. While investigators have been helpful in her pursuit of justice, still, there are parts of the story not shared in order to preserve the integrity of the case.
It’s not a total stall, however, as Sheri was able to establish some timeline and facts. Although, the details leave plenty to consider.
William and Toni Lee Haynor were seen together at a Holiday Inn, in a town neighboring the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, on Tuesday night, the 18th. The hotel desk employee noted to officials that William had an excessive amount of luggage, more than enough for what was believed to be a short trip.
William never boarded the plane. His luggage was never recovered. Reports show that he was carrying $150 cash and a few credit cards in his wallet, which was left intact when his body was found the following day.
Nobody has ever been held accountable for his murder.
Over four decades have passed since William Haynor was murdered and more questions remain than answers about that night. For now, Haynor’s surviving family only has memories to hold on to. For Sheri, she remembers her father teaching her how to ride a bike. “There was a big hill and I remember somebody was down the hill and we were up top. He was holding me walking down the hill and I think at some point he let me go,” she recalled.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of William Haynor, please call the Coppell Police Department at (972) 304-3600. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward, call Coppell Crime Stoppers at 972-436-TIPS.
Research & Impact
Grief can be a particularly difficult hurdle to overcome if experienced at such a young age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a traumatic event can alter developing milestone and stage markers for young children coping with the stress and grief caused by the sudden death of a loved one. Such traumatic events can lead some to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a diagnosis which could have far-reaching implications on their developing mind, imprinting well into adulthood.
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