On October 30, 1987, around 11 A.M., two men, one black, the other white, entered the post office in the little town of Epes, Alabama. They asked for stamps, then declared it was a robbery. Postmaster Opal Johnson was working that day:
"The black male jumped on the counter and immediately began to give orders. He seemed to be very familiar with the operation of a postal service. The black male gave all the orders. He told the white male what to do, and he did it. I never took money to work with me. I had a dollar and 38 cents."
When Opal had no money for the men, they decided to take her hostage. The thieves made off with about $700 in cash and stamps. One forced Opal into her car and followed his partner out into the country. For Opal, is was the most frightening ten minutes of her life:
"He put his gun across his lap. He was extremely nervous with his finger still on the trigger. It was poking me in the side."
Finally, they pulled into a remote clearing near Goggan's Lake, three miles from town. The gunman forced Opal out of the car and into the trunk of her car:
"He said, 'Give me your rings. I like those rings.' As I was taking my rings off, I looked at him and his eyes looked as if he hated the world. I was sure the men were going to kill me. I thought, 'They're going to drive my car off into the lake.' Then they got in their car and they left. When I could not hear them anymore, I began to feel around in the car and found a tire tool. I took it and began to work on the lock until it broke enough to pop the trunk. And I came out of that trunk running."
Within an hour, Opal had provided police with a detailed description of the two men. Police believe the white suspect was not from the South and the other may have been from the area.