Parole has been denied for Earl Hill Jr., the man convicted of the 1967 murder of a Washington, D.C., policeman and the assault of his wife at the Beauty Spot lookout on Unaka Mountain in Unicoi County.
According to Melissa McDonald, communications director for the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, four concurring votes among seven members of state's Board of Probation and Parole were cast to deny Hill parole, the number of votes needed for a final decision to either deny or grant an offender parole.
The first of these four votes came at Hill's most recent parole hearing, held on Jan. 6 in Johnson City. At that hearing, Parole Board Member Yusuf Hakeem voted to deny parole and not to consider Hill's case again until 2018.
McDonald said members of the Board Probation and Parole cited the "seriousness of the offense" as their reason for rejecting Hill's parole. As Hakeem had recommended, Hill's case will not be heard again until January 2018, the maximum amount of time allowed between hearing for a parole-eligible offender.
Hill, now 69, is serving two life sentences in prison - one for the 1967 murder of Washington, D.C., policeman and Unicoi County native Lowell Bailey, and the other for the rape of Bailey's wife. He also received a 21-year sentence for assault with intent to murder for assaulting Bailey's wife after killing Bailey. Later, Hill would receive a one-year sentence for escaping in 1977 from the Brush Mountain State Prison with James Earl Ray, the man convicted of assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
According to newspaper accounts from the time of the Beauty Spot crimes, the Bailey's were in the Erwin area from their home in Maryland to visit family. On the night of Nov. 25, 1967, Bailey and his wife went to Beauty Spot to talk on Citizens Band radios.
At some point in the evening, a car driven by Hill pulled up next to the Baileys' car and, as Bailey exited his car to see what Hill wanted, he was shot and killed, according to newspaper reports.
Hill then forced Mrs. Bailey into his car and drove her to a remote area where he assaulted, raped, shot her in the abdomen and left her for dead, according to reports. Mrs. Bailey survived the attack and was later found along Tennessee Highway 107 after having crawled several miles by two Johnson City Press newsmen in the area covering the shooting.
Hill, who was in the Army, was later arrest at Fort Stewart, Ga., and would plead guilty to the murder of Lowell Bailey and the kidnapping, assault and rape of his wife.
Hill was denied parole in his first year of eligibility in 1992 and was again denied in 2006. Lester Bailey, Town of Erwin Alderman and brother of Lowell Bailey, said the Bailey family is pleased that Hill has once again been denied parole.
Lester Bailey also said the family was appreciative of local officials who were in attendance at the Jan. 6 probation hearing to show their support of the family, as well as the more than 2,000 letters written to the state's Board of Probation and Parole speaking out against granting parole to Hill. He said he believes this went "a long way" with the Parole Board in making its decision.
"In summary, our mission was accomplished," he said. "We can have peace of mind for another six years."