Austin History Center

DeWitty Family Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: DeWitty, Velma
Title: DeWitty Family Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1979-1986
Abstract: Dana DeWitty was a 22-year old Austin, Texas resident that was killed in May of 1985. The small collection contains the memorial tribute book and program from the funeral, letters written to the Travis County District Attorney Ronald Earle asking for justice in the killing of DeWitty, newspaper clippings about the shooting as well as family photographs and some assorted papers belonging to Dana's mother Velma DeWitty.
Identification: AR.2002.041
Quantity: .2 linear feet (1 box)
Location: Archives stacks
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Dana Edwin DeWitty was born on November 28, 1962 in Travis County, Texas to Velma and Ural Edward DeWitty, Dr. Dana graduated from McCallum High School in 1982. He worked at the Austin State Hospital at the time of his death. Dana was shot in the head at the home of Elizabeth Richardson in Southeast Austin on May 12, 1985 by Elizabeth's father, Ben Richardson. Testimony at the trial indicated that Richardson, who was white, did not approve of his daughter's relationship with an African-American man, and that he mistook DeWitty for the boyfriend. Dana died on May 16th of the same year.

Benjamin Franklin Richardson was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 1985 after a jury rejected prosecutor's arguments that he should be convicted of murder in the killing of Dana. Three black organizations criticized the jury verdict, saying that racism played a role in the decision. The Black Citizens Task Force, the Black Students Alliance and the Steve Biko Committee charged that the verdict was evidence that the court system was preferential toward whites.

Scope and Contents

The Papers are a small collection of materials related to the DeWitty family found in an attic of a house by a new owner. Of significance are the materials related to the death of Dana DeWitty in 1985 which include the memorial tribute book and program from the funeral, letters written to the Travis County District Attorney Ronald Earle asking for justice in the killing of DeWitty and newspaper clippings about the shooting. Also included in the collection is a 1985 letter praising Dana's mother Velma DeWitty's job performance at the Austin State Hospital, usher board materials from the St. Stephen Baptist Church, and assorted funeral programs. In addition there are a number of unidentified photographs that are presumed to be of the DeWitty family.


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
DeWitty, Dana Edwin.
DeWitty, Velma.
St. Stephen Baptist Church.
Austin (Tex.)
African Americans--Texas--Austin.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated by a homeowner who found the materials in her attic.

Preferred Citation

DeWitty Family Papers (AR.2002.041). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2002/104

Donation Date: 2002

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults/2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Dana DeWitty, 1985

Box Folder
1 1 Memorial Tribute book and program, 1985
2 Letters to District Attorney, 1985
3 Newspaper clippings, 1985

II. Velma DeWitty, 1985

Box Folder
1 4 Memorandum, 1985

III., Photographs, undated

Box Folder
1 5 Photographs-unidentified, undated

IV. Church Materials, 1979-1986

Box Folder
1 6 St. Stephen Baptist Church usher board, undated
7 Funeral programs, 1979-1986