Lonnie Raney : Sheriff with divided loyalties

warren-county-sheriffs-office-mississippiLonnie Raney (1958-2006).  Oldest son of Vernon and Maggie Raney; brother of Ronnie and Ginny Raney.  Elected sheriff of Warren County (Vicksburg, county seat) and is generally a well-liked an defective law enforcement officer.  However, one of his prime responsibilities was protecting his mother and brother in the pursuit of through their drug distribution enterprise.

When his sister-in-law Louanne Borden Raney murders his brother Ronnie, and pleads guilty to manslaughter she later refuses to testify in an FBI investigation into the Rainey family criminal activities and instead warns Lonnie of the FBI investigation.

In 2006 Lonnie is killed in a shootout while attempting to protect his brother and other members of the business when the FBI comes to serve warrants for their arrest.

Ronnie Raney : Basically a “good ol’ boy”

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Ronnie Raney (1962-2004).  Middle son of Vernon and Margaret “Maggie” Raney (Maggie) in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Married to and murdered by Louanne Borden (Raney).  His brother Lonnie is sheriff of Warren County.  He has a younger sister, Ginny.

Ronnie works for his mother distributing drugs and in general running the business.  He started out dealing at University of Mississippi where he meets anad seduces Louanne.  They begin living together in a shotgun house in Vicksburg and as Ronnie becomes more and more responsible for the operations of the Raney drug enterprise, Louanne also becomes involved in running a bar and trailer when her girls turn tricks.

Ronnie is a basically a “good ol’ boy” and means well, but has trouble controlling his temper. Because he feels intimidated by Louanne’s intelligence and background (she comes from a well-to-do Dallas family) he often resorts to threatening behavior, and even physical violence, when he is at a loss for any other way of controlling a situation.

After suffering from this kind of behavior for years, one day in 2004 Louanne kills him for continuing to get drunk and beat her. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to twenty years at the Mississippi state penitentiary.

Lucy Bess Cooper : Just on the verge of change, a little too late

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Lucy Bess Cooper (1980-2015).

Parents: Ellen Grant Walker (1957- ) & Frank Wes Cooper (1951-1997).  Grandparents: Lucy Calhoun Keith (1921) & Joseph Cowan Cooper (1913-1995) on her father’s side;  Bessie Grant (1932- ) & Walter Calahan Walker (1931-2001) on her mother’s side.

Lucy Cooper comes from an old Mississippi family.  Roy Cooper entered the state in 1794 and gradually purchased enough land to have a small sustenance farm but no slaves.  His son, Frank Roy Cooper was 38 when the War Between the Sates broke out and enlisted and was made a colonel of a local regiment, and served until the very end at which time he was one of last men to fall in May of 1865. One of her great-great-grandfathers, Charles “Charley” Wooley Cooper, was ten years old at the end of the Civil War, fatherless, devoted his activities to causing as much mischief for the Reconstruction politicians in and around Jackson, Mississippi, as was possible for a small boy.  So, you could say that Lucy comes from a long line of hell-raisers and people with a strong disregard for authority, however, possessing a lot of respect for their Mississippi heritage.

Jackson MSLucy was in her 30s, living in Jackson, Mississippi, supporting herself with a small marijuana dealing business.  Across the street from her was a bachelor, Levi Hooper, who fell in love with her, which was not entirely unrequited.  She had been a small time drug dealer for the last decade primarily using marijuana but she also had done harder drugs, Dilaudid and cocaine.  Levi had been coming around and she felt a desire to change her life due to his overall wholesomeness and positive influence on her.  See could herself getting clean and starting a new life with Levi.  However, one of her old friends got picked up for his own drug issues, and in order to lessen his own sentence gave Lucy up as his dealer.

B9316412054Z.1_20150228201914_000_GUGA3CU39.1-0She was arrested and convicted for possession and distribution of marijuana and sentenced to 18 months at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (her friends incorrectly referring to  it  as Parchman Farm). While there she became depressed (since she was on the verge of changing her life) and began using Dilaudid, not orally as designed but crushing the pills and dissolving them in water for injection (“shake and bake”).  She died as a result of an overdose less than a year into her sentence, and only weeks before possibly being paroled.

Margaret “Maggie” Motts Raney : Matriarch of criminal family

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Margaret “Maggie” Motts Raney (1937- ).  Half-sister of Mildred Motts Hooper; aunt of Levi Hooper; wife of Vernon Raney; mother of Lonnie, Ronnie and Ginny Raney.

Delta_Farms_signMaggie Motts was born in Delta, Louisiana, a tiny hamlet at the Louisiana-Mississippi border,  just across the river from Vicksburg.  Because of a difficult home life, she often dreamed of getting out of Delta.  Vicksburg just across the river looked like a dream garden to her and she thought she’d do anything to get there.  She did: marrying Vernon Raney, nearly twice her age, but a good husband to her.

gettyimages-109913282They had three children, Lonnie, Ronnie and Ginny.  Maggie was an ambitious girl and decided early on to piggy-back a drug distribution business onto Vernon’s already prospering bootlegging enterprise.  After all, bootleg whiskey was going out of style since by the mid-‘60s, liquor by the drink was legal and there was little demand for bootleg whiskey except out of nostalgia.

Maggie got her oldest son, Lonnie elected sheriff as a way to offer protection for her and her second son, Ronnie, to operate the drug business with little interference from law enforcement. This they did and quickly established a distribution network of dealers from Natchez to Memphis.

Maggie lived to see both of her sons die violent deaths: Ronnie was murdered by his wife, Louanne Borden, and Lonnie was killed in a gun stand-off with rival drug dealers.  As the drug network wound down, Maggie grew into her role as grandmother to Ginny’s children, living a quiet life in Vicksburg.