By Debbie Hall
A Bassett family continues to hope for justice in the 2013 death of a loved one.
Polly Dodson vividly recalls the last time she saw her son, Ricky Eugene Dodson.
It was nearly eight-years ago on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. She was returning from an appointment and he was unloading groceries, Polly Dodson said. One of her daughters had recently been released from the hospital. She and her son had a brief conversation about his sister’s health.
The last thing Ricky Dodson said to his mother was “tell her I love her,” Polly Dodson said.
Ricky Dodson’s remains were found in the Henry area of Franklin County on Dec. 5, 2013. Authorities have declined to provide information about the manner of death.
“It’s listed as ‘sealed’ in his death certificate,” said his sister, Frances Hylton. “It’s hard knowing he laid in the woods for two months” before his remains were found.
Both Polly Dodson and Hylton speculate Ricky Dodson planned to spend the weekend with Vicky Harbour Purdy.
“It wasn’t unusual for them to spend the weekend somewhere,” Polly Dodson said.
Purdy’s remains were found Oct. 6, 2013, inside a burned vehicle on Philpott Road, near the Franklin County/Henry County line. She suffered a gunshot wound to the head, according to authorities.
The two were last seen alive by family on Oct. 4, 2013. Both were 53 and of Bassett.
There have been no arrests in the case.
The two women recalled that before Ricky Dodson’s remains were found, authorities seemed to believe he was responsible for Purdy’s death.
“But even if he had done it, I think he would have called and told me he had done something wrong and wouldn’t be around,” Polly Dodson said. “He wouldn’t want me to worry.”
Two days after Purdy’s remains were found, Polly Dodson said she and other family members rode to the area.
“There were police cars all up and down that road. We turned and went down another road – it was the road where they finally found Ricky’s body. We saw a bunch of buzzards circling and flying around” out in the nearby woods, Polly Dodson said.
At the time, “I said they were migrating. I didn’t think any more about it. Now, I wish we would have stopped and looked. I would have hated to find him,” but Polly Dodson said she also hated the idea of her son being in the woods for two months.
“Ricky was always happy-go-lucky. If somebody made him mad, he’d let them know it, but he could come up with a joke off the top of his head,” she said and recalled a family trip to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area of Tennessee.
“We were in a little restaurant across the road from where people were bungee jumping, and Ricky kept us laughing,” she said. “When they got ready to leave, one couple stopped by our table and said they didn’t mean to interrupt, but they had more fun listening to him than they did” attending a popular attraction. “Ricky would have made a good comedian.”
She also wishes local authorities were investigating the case.
“Ricky hardly knew anybody in Franklin County. It wasn’t someplace he hung out in,” she said. “He knew people in Henry County.”
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said because the bodies were found in Franklin County, authorities there are heading the investigation, with his office assisting.
Franklin County Sheriff’s investigator Sandra Ingram and Lt. J.P Nolen did not immediately return calls for comment.
With no arrests in the case and few updates, “I get more and more depressed as it goes on,” Polly Dodson said. “It really has affected me. I can’t seem to get away from it.”
Polly Dodson fears she’s becoming a hoarder. She can’t bear to part with anything of sentimental value. “I used to joke about turning into a hermit and I pretty much have done that,” she added.
Although she appreciates the help her other children and grandchildren provide now, “Ricky was always my helper. I think that’s why I don’t do anything anymore,” Polly Dodson said.
She and Hylton both say not knowing who killed the two and why is hard.
Hylton hopes someone with knowledge of the incident will give authorities leads in the case.
“Finding his body did bring us some closure, but not hearing anything is just driving us crazy,” Hylton said. An arrest “is not going to change anything or bring them back, but at least we’ll know. We just keep praying” for resolution.
Anyone with information may call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 638-8751 or the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 483-3000.