In the summer of 1969, Lillie Belle Allen found herself at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
Every year, the 27-year-old divorced mother-of-two would drive her children and her parents from their home in Aiken, S.C., to York, Pa., to visit family and friends before heading to New York.
But this annual visit turned into a tragedy when they found themselves in the middle of citywide riots in York erupting from long-simmering racial tensions.
Tonight’s episode of People Magazine Investigates examines the circumstances that led to the untimely deaths of Allen and Henry Schaad, a white 22-year-old police officer who had been fatally shot days earlier. An exclusive clip of the episode, titled “Murder on Newberry St.,” is shown above.
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On the day of her killing, while Allen’s children Debra, 11, and Michael, 9, waited at home, Allen and her family drove to the store and picked up supplies for their upcoming road trip. They took a wrong turn and found themselves surrounded by white men with loaded guns.
Allen stepped out of the car, raised her hands and said, “Don’t shoot.” But a hail of bullets exploded, shattering the car windows and leaving Allen fatally wounded.
“My family was caught up in a situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time because of something that was already festering in that neighborhood,” says Michael, now 59. “They were waiting to ambush somebody. My family just happened to be the one.”
For three decades, Allen’s and Schaad’s killings would remain unsolved and a part of the bleakest moment in the city’s history. But in 1999, while reporting on the 30th anniversary of the riots, journalists from the local newspaper began looking into the cases, prompting investigators to reopen them.
The findings of their investigations gave the families of the slain people answers at long last.
People Magazine Investigates: Murder on Newberry St. airs tonight, Jan. 14 (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.