Margaret “Maggie” Motts Raney : Matriarch of criminal family

Hwy 80, Minden, Louisiana

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.

Introducing Louanne Murphy Borden : A good girl who lost her way

Bonnet_Louanne 1987

Louanne Murphy Borden (1967- ) comes from an old Texas family, descendants of Thomas Borden (1802-1836), one of The Old Three Hundred and the first Borden to live in Texas.  The Bordens became quite wealthy during the first decade of the 20th century when Louanne’s great-great-grandfather, Jonus Caldwell Borden (1860-1914), struck oil on his ranch, before dying of a stroke.  The ranch and oil wells went to his son, James Neal Borden (1889-1961), who proved himself more than a competent steward of the family’s burgeoning wealth.

Bonnet_Bonnet Home in Highland Park

By the time Louanne was born the family had been living for decades in Dallas, the “old-money” part of town, Highland Park.  As was true for many kids who grew up during the Seventies, of privilege, Louanne’s idea of rebellion centered upon hanging out with kids from “the wrong side of the tracks”, and in general, frustrating her parents ideas about whom she ought to date, i.e. a nice boy from the club.  When it came time for Louanne to go off to college, she chose the University of Mississippi in Oxford because she had heard from some friends in Baton Rouge that it was an even bigger party school than LSU.

Bonnet_Ole MissIn her first semester at Ol’ Miss, Louanne met a good-looking fellow, Ronnie Raney, who definitely was not a boy from the club, and not even enrolled at the university.  His main preoccupation appeared to be selling quality weed to fraternity boys.  One thing led to another and soon Louanne and Ronnie began dating, ending up with Louanne unofficially dropping out of school and moving to Vicksburg with him.

Louanne did not fully appreciate what she was getting into, since unbeknownst to her, Ronnie’s little pot business was only the tip of the criminal iceberg run by Ronnie’s mother, Maggie Raney.  The Raney family, i.e. Maggie, had a strong hold on the political and judicial levers of power in Warren County, and in fact, exerted influence and received protection from prosecution from Natchez to Memphis.

shotgun houseFor a while Louanne partnered with Ronnie in the marijuana distribution enterprise, even turning out a few girls using a trailer behind the topless bar owned by the Raney family.  However, after living a few years, even getting married to Ronnie, she got tired of Ronnie’s habit of hitting her when angered.  She found the nerve to shoot him while he ate the fried chicken and gravy she made for him.

She did not even attempt to flee the jurisdiction nor avoid prosecution for this crime.  She was well aware that Ronnie’s older brother, Lonnie, sheriff of the county, would make sure that her justifiable homicide defense at trial was not convince the jury.  In short order Louanne was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years to be served at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

While at CMCF, Louanne developed an exemplary record of good behavior including mentoring several other young female prisoners.  For example, about half way through her sentence, a young woman, Lucy Cooper, was sent to CMCF on a drug charge, given eighteen months.  Lucy was a funny, bright, and street smart but fragile woman who simply could not do the time for her crime.  Despite being taken under Louanne’s wing, Lucy became increasingly more and more despondent, eventually suiciding from an overdose – within six weeks of her release.

Not long after this tragedy Louanne’s case was reviewed by a judge who ruled that hers was a case of justified homicide and her sentence was commuted to time served. These events coincided with the death of her grandmother in 2015, when she was released after serving almost 70% of her original sentence.  She returned to Texas for her grandmother’s funeral and remained there with her mother, to live once again in Highland Park, however, now in somewhat reduced grandeur.