When officers arrived at the home of the Hargon family in rural Vaughan, Mississippi, they found large amounts of splattered blood and plenty of spent bullet casings.
After a series of events that could have been a plot to a Hollywood movie, it would later transpire that the Hargon family had been murdered by their “cowboy” cousin Earnest Lee Hargon.
The bodies of Michael Hargon, 27, his wife Rebecca, 29, and their 4-year old son were discovered in a remote wooded area about 75- miles southeast of their home.
Michael Hargon had been killed with a shot to the head while his wife Rebecca, and their son were both strangled.
The murderer was Michael’s cousin, Earnest Lee Hargon, 43, a former cattle truck driver who felt he had been cheated out of the family’s will.
Earnest Hargon had been adopted into the family as a youngster when his mother married a Hargon. However, once in his 40s, Earnest, who was described as a modern-day cowboy, began suffering multiple personal problems, which included becoming addicted to crystal methamphetamine.
And then in 2004, his adoptive father wrote him out of his will, instead opting to give his 50-acre cattle farm to Michael.
Michael Hargon fought hard for his family’s life
A few weeks later, Earnest went to Michael’s home, where the pair began fighting violently. Michael had attempted to retrieve his gun from his truck but failed to reach it. Some of his teeth were found near the open door of the vehicle.
After shooting Michael in the head, he then went searching for Rebecca and her son. He disabled them before throwing the family into his car and driving to an isolated field.
Rebecca and the child were still alive at this point, so he strangled them to death and buried the three bodies in a shallow grave.
That evening while having dinner with his wife, Earnest confessed his crime. He told her, “I got them, all three.” His wife then informed the police.
Earnest was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. Before the execution could be carried out, Earnest was stabbed 30-times by a fellow inmate at the state penitentiary.
The Hargon family were no strangers to tragedy; Michael’s family father, Haywood Hargin, had been murdered in a robbery in 1994 at the family’s grocery store. The killers made off with $114.
More from Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more murders from America’s south profiled on ID
Sophia Arnold was a 20-year-old co-ed from Southern University co-ed when her strangled remains were found near a levee on the banks of the Mississippi River. Rhine Reynold’s was later charged with killing her after an argument over money.
Claudette Ficik was another student, this time at Georgia’s Southern Tech when she vanished one day in 1994. She had been pregnant and was due to marry her boyfriend, Jason Ragland. Instead, Ragland murdered her and dumped her remains in the Oconee River.
My Family’s Deadly Secret airs Sunday at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.