The Unsolved Murder Of Isadore Banks, One Of The Wealthiest Land Owners In Arkansas, In 1954

15th of July, 1895 Isadore Banks enlisted in the Army at the age of 22 in the latter months of World War I, but it is unclear whether he was sent overseas. On August 2, 1919, Banks received an honorable discharge. 

According to CNN, after returning from the army in the 1920s, he assisted in the provision of electricity in Marion, Arkansas. Banks would go on to become one of Arkansas’ wealthiest Black landowners. According to published accounts, he formerly owned as much as 1,000 acres.

Isadore Banks, an African-American landowner from Crittenden County, Arkansas, vanished on June 5, 1954. Then his body was discovered mangled and burned in a tiny forested area on his property a few days later. On June 4, 1954, Banks’ wife was the last person to see him as he left home with the purpose of paying his farmhands.

Banks’ truck was discovered in a forested area on his property on June 8, with his loaded shotgun and coat inside. His body was later discovered tied to a tree, doused in gasoline, tortured, and charred beyond recognition, according to authorities.

T. H. McGough, the coroner, found no signs of robbery or struggle at the area, implying that the killing may have taken place elsewhere; Banks’ 300-pound body was likely brought to the site by multiple individuals. A knife or handgun discharge caused a hole in Banks’ right side, according to the coroner. 

Banks’ assassination is one of the most well-known civil rights-era cold cases in Arkansas. No one was ever charged with Banks’ murder. Since Banks’ death in 1954, locals have proposed three possibilities as to why people hunted him down, according to CNN:

– He had assaulted a white man who had courted Muriel, his oldest daughter.

– He had multiple offers on his farm from white persons, but he refused to sell.

– Banks was involved with a white woman who rented her land to him, which enraged white people.

“There can never be a true closure until we know who the perpetrators were who took dad’s life and what happened to our farm,” Jim Banks, Banks’ son, told CNN in 2010.

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