Mountain Brook murder still a mystery more than 30 years later

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MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — More than 30 years ago, Virginia Simpson, of Mountain Brook, was murdered inside her home. Someone out there knows who killed her and why, but that person has never come forward to police.

To the casual eye, Simpson was a portrait of Southern class.

She was at the helm of social and civic groups from her 32-bedroom Mountain Brook mansion.

Her husband, Joe Simpson, was a powerful, well-respected attorney. The Simpsons appeared to be unsinkable.

But on August 31, 1977, Virginia Simpson was murdered. She was shot three times inside her home.

“Virginia wasn’t just murdered, she was assassinated,” said Alfonso Figueroa.

He and his wife, Janet, lived with Virginia inside the mansion. They had moved to Birmingham at Virginia’s request to direct the city’s first professional ballet company.

Alfonso and Janet viewed Virginia as family.

“She was not a socialite. That implies, Junior League, white gloves. That was not Virginia. Virginia was an organizer. She was a community leader,” said Janet Figueroa.

“She was not racist, and that created friction between her and everybody else around her,” added Alfonso.

That friction was strongest within her immediate family. It impacted her relationship with her husband so much that the two slept in different rooms at night.

Attention turned to Virginia’s 25-year-old son, James Simpson.

Media reports at the time indicate James, who was often called to as Popsy, was involved in the drug scene in Birmingham.

Reports said Popsy tried to hire two men to kill his father. However, what wasn’t reported is what retired District Attorney David Barber told WIAT 42 News more than 30 years later.

“I think the target was the husband,” Barber said. “He meant to kill his dad and didn’t realize his mother was asleep in his dad’s bed.”

So, the question remains: could the murder of Virginia Simpson be an accident?

Janet and Alfonso’s attention turned to Joe. He was in Boston visiting his daughter the night of the murder.

“I said to him, ‘With all of your connections, why aren’t you finding out who did this?’ The pregnant silence told me the answer. Shortly after that he decided that it wasn’t safe for us to be living there, that we really should move out,” Alfonso said. “What does that mean? I know what it means to me.”

Alfonso and Janet hope one day they’ll know for sure who killed Virginia Simpson.

Until then, Virginia’s killer walks free.

Birmingham Ballet photo courtesy: Phil Free

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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