Ambushed By Gunfire

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By Lisa Blackwell

It was a shooting that shocked Montgomery and stunned the school community.

A teacher killed on her way home.

After many years, her murder...and the killer...still remain a mystery.

Twenty four years ago this busy stretch of I-85 near Taylor Road was less travelled. East Chase Mall wasn’t even around then.

It was here where a teacher’s car went off the road and smashed into a group of trees.

When law enforcement arrived at the scene they quickly discovered this crash was no accident but rather cold blooded murder.

A murder that remains unsolved to this day.

Christmas night 1987, forty four year old Dorothy Griffin was out on the town, hanging out with a friend at the downtown Montgomery night club Sous La Terre. It was the last time anyone saw her alive.

Authorities say sometime after midnight, Griffin was driving north on interstate 85, toward her home. She was passing the off ramp to the Taylor Road exit when someone in another car pulled along the driver’s side of her car and fired seven shots at her. Griffin’s car continued travelling down the interstate, under the Taylor road overpass and crashed into trees in the median. Captain Mark Thompson was the second officer on the scene.

Captain Mark Thompson, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, says, “We recovered fragments out of the windshield which was determined to be a 223 caliber type weapon which at this point the ruling was leaning toward a Ruger style 223 weapon.”

Thompson says what was unusual is that the gun used was a military type weapon. Even more unusual, not a single shell casing was found at the scene.

“My own personal opinion, whoever done this, was an expert shot, with that type weapon and I don’t think it was a random killing,” said Thompson.

So, who would want to kill a school teacher and why? Griffin taught second grade at Flowers Elementary. The former principal at the school, Sandra Pugh, says griffin’s murder was shocking.

“To our knowledge no one could have been any nicer to work with or to deal with than Dorothy Griffin at the time I never received a complaint about her as a teacher in any shape form or fashion, she got along well with the faculty, her paired teachers, the students, I had many requests for children to be in her classroom,” said Pugh.

Griffin was so well liked, the school dedicated the 1988 year book in her memory. Pugh says if griffin was having trouble with anyone, her co-workers were not aware of it.

“Everyone wants to know do you have any ideas of what could have possibly happened did anyone begrudge her for anything and as far as the school population went no one could have been more shocked”, said Pugh.

Some people take secrets with them to the grave. Did griffin have any secrets? Any reason anyone would want to silence her? If she did, her family says they don’t know about them. Nearly twenty five years later, her son Arthur Griffin is just as baffled by her murder as the day he heard the terrible news.

Arthur Griffin, Dorothy’s son, says, “It was a double dose of shock, I thought, I knew something was wrong because for her not to come home I knew something bad had to happen but my mother shot, it doesn’t seem like something that would ever happen.”

Arthur and Anthony Griffin are Dorothy’s twin sons and were fifteen years old at the time of her murder. They say their mother rarely went out at night and had no enemies.

Anthony Griffin, Dorothy’s son, says, “she was very well respected in the community, she was a teacher, very active in the church and you know she helped out wherever she could, she was just a very loving person.”

Griffin was divorced, but both of her sons say there were no problems with her and their dad.

“There were no suspicions of my father, he was a well respected person as well and you know they had civilly separated and they both had moved on and he had supported her from day one,” said Anthony Griffin.

Griffin’s brother, Edward Parks, says he feels there was more than one person involved in this crime.

“Well it was very shocking and as we always said that she had to have been targeted for…it had to have been two people to drive along in a car and just murder a person like that,” said Parks.

After all these years the family is still hoping someone will come forward and help solve griffin’s murder.

There were many different theories and rumors about who killed Dorothy Griffin. Authorities held a coroner’s inquest to see if more clues would emerge.
They say say every lead went cold.
Now almost twenty five years later one piece of evidence remains…bullet fragments from a ruger 223. It’s evidence that Captain Thompson hopes could still lead them to a killer.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has a total of six unsolved murders since the late 70’s.
If you have any information that would help authorities find Dorothy Griffin’s killer, contact Captain Thompson at 334-832-1667.

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