The story was tragic and the judgment swift, though justice never really showed up for those who needed it most. For those who lived in Henry County in the 1970s, Jerry Banks, a local African American man, was the name on everyone’s tongue. He was convicted for the brutal murders of Marvin King, a Jonesboro High School band director, and Melanie Ann Hartsfield, a college student. Both were white. Their bodies were found off Rock Quarry Road by Jerry Banks. Within one hundred and seven days, Banks was sentenced to death with no motive and little evidence. A lifelong Henry Countian, Hans Broder tells Banks’ story in his new book “May All of You and God Forgive Me.” During the time of these events, Broder was a young CEO at FirstState Bank, a prominent bank in Henry County. Due to his position, he knew many people, even detectives and lawyers, had to bank somewhere. One of the greatest skills Broder ever learned was how to listen. In later years, he would get to know Virginia Banks, Jerry’s wife, and theBanksfamily who were seeking financial assistance. Broder’s professional position wasn’t the only link he had to the Banks family. Although Hans lived in Henry County most of his life, he spent his first five years in Switzerland. The Broders immigrated to the United States in the early 1950s to develop a dairy farm (Horseshoe Farm) that, up until recently, was on Flippen Road.
In the beginning, there was a mutual curiosity between the German-speaking Broders and the Banks family. However, trust and respect grew quickly, and the Broder Farm frequently hired members of the Banks family to help on the farm. The Jerry Banks saga seemed to end in 1981 with Jerry’s release from prison due to the courageous work of local defenders. However, the mystery surrounding the King and Hartsfield murders remains to this date. Throughout the years since, Broder always knew he wanted to tell this incredible story. In writing this book, he was able to weave local Henry County history, the political climate of the time, and Jerry’s story, through the eyes and ears of those who were involved and who Broder knew–his friends, classmates, and customers.“May All of You and God Forgive Me” by Hans Broder is available through hansbroder.com, Story on the Square, Birdsong Books, BarnBeautiful, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble websites.
By Mia Broder