Texas

A man convicted of killing Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1983 died in prison.

One of two men serving life sentences for the murder of five people kidnapped in 1983 from Kilgore’s Kentucky Fried Chicken has died.

Darnell Hartsfield, 61, died in May from a “massive hemorrhagic stroke,” according to a report from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Hartsfield served his sentence at the Mark W. Michael Unit in the Tennessee Colony. In September 2008, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Hartsfield had a parole hearing this month.

His cousin, Romeo Pinkerton, 64, pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2007. It is located at the James W. Allred branch in Wichita Falls.

Both were convicted of kidnapping 37-year-old Mary Tyler; Opie Ann Hughes, 39; Joey Johnson, 20; David Maxwell, 20; and Monte Landers, 19; from Kentucky Fried Chicken, were driven to a remote oil field road and shot to death.

The September 23, 1983 murders went unsolved for decades. However, DNA analysis in 2001, based on traces of blood on the napkin and the lid of the box, pointed to Hartsfield and Pinkerton.

Authorities said they believed a third suspect was involved, but the man was never identified.

“There are a lot of people who still think other people are to blame, but that’s the only place where the evidence leads is Pinkerton and Hartsfield,” Rusk County District Attorney Michael Jimerson said in 2019.

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