Domestic violence shapes a nation, as much as, any given social or economic factor. It gouges out a brutal place in a nation’s psyche, leaving all manner of jagged edges and intractable craters.
Domestic violence comes in many forms. It occupies a particularly high place on a totem of societal ills. It is the progenitor of so much mental illness, generational poverty, family and community breakdown, and yet, so very little is done to stop it.
William Munnings Shot Dead The Child Named After Him 1959
In July 1959, a little girl, named after her father, was killed by him, almost execution style, in the front of their little house in Ball’s Alley, Nassau. He had intended to murder his whole family, but after killing the little girl and being out of bullets, he decided to walk to sister’s house. He was picked up by a cousin, in the cousin’s taxi. At his sister’s house, he rested for awhile.
Husband, father and killer: William Munnings
Wife: Ruth Louise Munnings – On the night of the murder, went to the police station to file complaint against estranged husband, who had just threatened to kill the entire family. Ruth Munnings accepted police protection, staying at the station. Ruth left her three or four children, home alone, as her violent husband remained at large. Left at home were: Rodney Munnings (14 years old), Willamae Munnings (8 years old) and a three year old toddler and probably a six year old.
Ruth Munnings had three children by her husband William, the youngest by him was six years old. Ruth Munnings also had a three year old daughter.
Place: Ball’s Alley
Victim: Willamae Munnings (daughter) 8 years old.
Manner of death: Shot in the head and in the chest by father William Munnings
Time of death: Around 12:300 am in the early hours of June 18th, 1959
Lawyer for accused assigned to the case by the court: Lynden O. Pindling.
Defence to charge of wilful murder: Insanity
Lynden Pindling was assigned to the case by the court. With a number of witnesses, as well as, Munnings shooting at two policemen and wounding one, lawyer Pindling could not establish any kind of reasonable doubt. A plea for insanity was the only course of action. It failed.
William Munnings, an abusive, violent and angry man, had been stalking his estranged wife for four long years. She was afraid of him and for good reason. William Munnings didn’t need much provocation to unleash his destructive temper. He owned a local bar and poolroom and liked to drink. Munnings also owned a gun. His shop was quite near the house on Ball’s Alley.
June 17, 1959 11:10 PM – Ball’s Alley, Over The Hill, Nassau
William Munnings was standing outside the house of his estranged wife Ruth Louise Munnings and four children. Munnings was having words with Police Corporal Alleyne. Munnings is threatening his wife, shouting at her from street. He says he will chop her and the children up with a hatchet. Munnings fires two shots, from his gun, at the house. Before Corporal Alleyne can act, Munnings takes off.
Testimony of Ruth Munnings (estranged wife)
Munnings shouts as he runs away “Don’t mind. By now in the morning all of you will be dead.”
Testimony of Rodney Munnings (14 year old son)
When William Munnings returns to the house for a second time, that night, he comes with a gun. Oldest boy recalls grabbing his three-year-old baby sister and hiding under the bed from his father.
Rodney Munnings, 14 years old, recalls hearing his father, calling Willamae to him and demanding to know if she was the one who told the police he had a gun.
The last words, Rodney heard from his sister were, “No, Daddy! You mustn’t shoot me.”
Ruth Munnings was taken to the police station around 11:30 pm on June 17, 1959. She files a formal complaint. In the complaint, she says her estranged husband threatened to kill her. Ruth is kept at the police station for safety. Fatally however, all the children were left at home, under the charge of the oldest, Rodney Munnings, the son, 14 years old.
Meanwhile, two policemen are sent to find Munnings. They find him at his poolroom/bar on East Shirley Street. Munnings shot at the two policemen, hitting one in the shoulder. William Munnings managed to escape as the two policemen hid for their lives.
William Munnings then goes straight to the house on Ball’s Alley, which wasn’t far from the poolroom/bar.
There, at the house, he shot at the dwelling several times. Hearing threats of death made by their father, prompted the frantic children to look for hiding places.
Just a little after midnight, around 12:30 am or so on June 18, 1959, William Munnings calls out to his daughter Willamae who obeys him. She comes out from her hiding place at the back of the house. After a brief and angry interrogation of her, Munnings shoots her in the chest and head. One bullet severs her spinal cord. Another exited the back of her head.
Two neighbours witnessed the shooting. In fear, they closed their doors and waited for the police. They left Willamae’s body, untouched, on the ground near the light pole.
William Munnings more concerned for his puppy, left at his poolroom, after shooting his daughter dead
Alexander Major, cousin of accused murderer William Munnings testified that Munnings was concerned for his puppy. It was left at the poolroom.
Munnings was in a hurry when he last left his place of business. He was in an angry rush, on his way to murder his family. Quite naturally, he had forgotten to lock up.
Munnings sister screamed in court for her brother as he was sentenced to death.
Munnings was the first person to be sentenced under new legal wording. Previously, it was said “to be hanged by the neck until dead.” Munnings got, “in the manner authorised by law.”
William Munnings was hanged on 11th AUGUST 1959 for the murder of his namesake, 8 year-old daughter, Willamae.
William Munnings tells his cousin to leave the bottle and find the Bible
William Munnings left his poolroom and his puppy in the charge of his taxi driver cousin, Alexander Major. It was Major, who gave him a lift, to his sister’s house after the murder of Willamae.
Major often visited him in prison. Munnings wrote to him before his execution.
Shortly after Munnings was was hanged for shooting his daughter dead in the dusty street, Major closed the poolroom for obvious reasons.