The Lester Street Murders

••• Credit: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images.

On March 3, 2008, a horrific scene was discovered in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee. After receiving a phone call from a concerned relative, Memphis Police officers entered a home at 722 Lester Street to check on its occupants. What they found was shocking, even to seasoned officers. The bodies of six people, ranging in age from 2 to 33, were scattered throughout the house. In addition, three other children were found seriously injured.

The murder victims were soon to be identified as:

  • Cecil Dotson, age 30
  • Cecil Dotson II, age 2
  • Cemario Dotson, age 4
  • Shindri Roberson, age 22
  • Hollis Seals, age 33
  • Marissa Williams, age 27

The injured were identified as:

  • Cecil Dotson, Jr., age 9
  • Cedric Dotson, age 5
  • Ceniyah Dotson, age 4 months

Although it took some time to sort out, autopsy reports eventually showed that the adult victims were shot multiple times while the children were stabbed multiple times and suffered blunt force trauma to the head. The surviving victims also bore stab wounds, one of whom was found with a knife still stuck in his head.

As the community reeled from the shock of the discovery, rumors began running rampant regarding the possible motivation and perpetrator of such a crime. For several days, the general consensus was that the murders must have been gang-related. After all, who else would stoop to such brutality?

With this line of reasoning in mind, it was particularly disturbing when police announced just days after the murders that they had arrested and charged Jessie Dotson, age 33 with the crime.

Jessie Dotson was the older brother of victim Cecil Dotson. Jessie was also the uncle of all five of the children involved. According to an account by one of the surviving victims of the massacre and a confession by Dotson, himself, Jessie shot Cecil during an argument. He then attempted to kill everyone else in the house to eliminate any witnesses.

The investigation of the Lester Street murders was featured on the A&E show, The First 48. Dotson's confession was also aired during this episode.The murder was covered by the national media to an extent.

Jessie Dotson was convicted of 6 counts of first-degree murder after his October 2010 trial in Memphis. He was sentenced to the death penalty. 

Updated March 2017