Family says article stated falsehoods, neglected facts

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Dear Editor:

A story ran on the front page of the March 22, 2018 edition of The Coushatta Citizen and the Natchitoches paper as well, about the parole hearing for Clyde Giddens. He is serving a life sentence for the very brutal murder of my husband’s mother, Earline Bamburg, plus 10 years for arson as he also burned their family home. Giddens entered her home on Sept. 19, 1963 as Earline was ironing clothes for her family at the screen door. When he left she had been slaughtered and their home was on fire. Giddens confessed to the murder although he couldn’t even remember how many times he had stabbed her. He told detectives how he mutilated her by cutting or sawing her hands, arms and legs in pieces even described laughing like he was having fun as he did it, “the more he sawed the more he laughed”. He then put parts of her body in a bag, poured some kind of accelerant on her and started the fire before fleeing into the woods across the road with the bag. Once in the woods he cut her arms and legs up and fed them to a stray dog and said he got a kick out feeding her to the dog like it was hamburger meat.

What Earline suffered that day has haunted everyone who loved her. For almost 50 years her husband, Janks, her daughter, Cindy and her son, Dennis and myself have fought to keep Giddens in prison where he surely belongs. Each and every time he files another hearing in an effort to gain release from prison we are forced to relive the horrific details that we wish we could forget.

This story contained a little truth but the main fact was a lie that insulted the honor of our family and defamed the good name of two wonderful God-fearing people, Janks and Earline Bamburg. They were married as teenagers, raised two wonderful children and were married until Earline was murdered. Your story falsely stated that Earline Bamburg was the estranged wife of Clyde Giddens. Just to have her name linked in this way to the cold-blooded murderer who savagely took her life for no reason is beyond understanding. You have a responsibility to your readers to check the facts before publishing a story and obviously no one thought it was important to do so in this case. I am very upset with whoever is responsible for this and want them to know that this was devastating to our family.

One phone call to the Sheriff or the District Attorney in either Red River or Natchitoches Parish would have cleared this up before this slander was in print. Walk down the street and talk to anyone alive when this tragedy happened and they could have told you that it was totally false. I will never understand why no one made the effort. We and other relatives have received calls from people who are shocked, angry and disappointed as we are, that you would print something like that.

I can only guess that it was a rush to print anything to fill the page. It is a shame that Earline’s hometown paper where she and Janks along with their parents and siblings lived their entire lives published this lie that has caused her family so much unnecessary grief and pain. If you walked one day in our shoes you would understand why this is so personal to us, the family of Earline Bamburg. I spoke with both Barbara Holland, the editor of the Coushatta Citizen and Juanice Gray at the Natchitoches paper after reading the article and they both apologized. I told them that we expected a them to put a correction along with a public apology in headlines on the front page in the next edition. We think the truth deserved equal status as your false reporting. Instead there was a tiny article on the bottom of the page with no heading to link it to your false story.

It appears your practice is to print stories without bothering to verify facts in the headlines and then when you are confronted with your negligence you hide any correction and regrets, hoping it will be missed by your readers. I know that as of earlier today the same story you printed last week is still up on the website for the Natchitoches paper. Please remove that immediately. Is their no integrity or responsibility in your business to make sure you print truth and or at the very least to correct it in a appropriate manner when you do print falsehoods? My mother in law’s good name and reputation was slandered to those who did not know her, of course those who knew her could not believe that you were so careless with the facts. Earline Bamburg was loved and highly respected in the community and the innocent victim of a brutal and horrific murder and you disrespected her memory and our family by your irresponsible and untrue words about her. Mistakes can happen but this one could have been avoided with a little effort on your part. Your lame attempt to get the correction to those who read this false story was totally inadequate. I am asking you to please print this letter in your next addition so your readers will have the true facts and understand why this particular falsehood was so very hurtful to the family and friends who loved Earline. You are responsible for neglecting to verify the facts before printing and for failing to take full responsibility and making sure that those who read the original story which was false would also see and read your correction.

Sincerely, Margie Dumas Bamburg