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The pizza, the pistol and the prayer

  • Written by Kelvin Cowans
  • Published in News
On August 1, the body of a man in a praying position was found on a roof atop 5353 Derron. I tried to speak with the owner of the home, but he wanted nothing to do with this story. by Kelvin Cowans
Special to The Tri-State Defender

To pass away from this life is something that we’ll all eventually do. But how or when we die is as uncertain as the length of a marriage, still as final as a divorce. While the bodies of those that have passed away have been commonly found in their homes, cars, or sometimes in open fields, the roof of someone’s home just doesn’t crack the top ten.

On August 1, the body of a man in a praying position was found on a roof atop 5353 Derron. I tried to speak with the owner of the home, but he wanted nothing to do with this story. So I moved on and was able to speak with Leslie Talley, who lives about a dozen homes down.

 
They said that he (Andrew Woodley Sr.) was in a praying position with his hands closed together and head bowed. – Linda Woodley (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)

 
On August 1, the body of a man was found on the roof of 5353 Derron. (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)

“All I know is I was on my way home from church that evening and the Police had the entire street blocked off, so I had to drive all the way around the block to get home,” said Talley. “I have been living over here for seven years and it’s bad. I remember thinking, just what in the world has happened over here now? I later found out that it had something to do with the shooting at Pizza Hut from a few days before.”

That led me to the Pizza Hut located at 5376 Knight Arnold Rd. An employee, Carolyn Mays, told me that she remembered the incident very well because she was working the night that they called 911 for the young man who had been shot in the parking lot.

“There was a huge commotion and one man was seen running away from the scene with a gun headed north on Mendenhall,” she said.

And that was all she knew. I was at a dead end in this story and the often staggering

but popular headlines in Memphis news may have only reflected another senseless crime in Memphis, yet no complete details.

But not this time.

I went to speak with the wife of the man whose body was found on that roof and that’s when this story really took off.

Linda Woodley welcomed me into her home where she, her husband, the deceased Andrew Woodley Sr., 55, and their son, Andrew Woodley Jr., 18, lived. The Ten Commandments were strategically placed on the wall of their home entrance. During the first ten minutes of the interview, Linda Woodley never managed a smile. I understood. She’d buried her husband of 30 years just over a month ago.

“My husband was a good husband. He has always taken care of me and our son, Andrew Jr. He had other kids before we got married and he took great care of them as well. He would never hurt any of his children on purpose. Even the police told me that they couldn’t find so much as a speeding ticket on my husband,” said Woodley, now managing a smile.

I asked her to please explain what led to her husband being found dead on top of someone’s roof.

“Memphis is a dangerous city and along with the dogs in our back yard and the multiple locks on our doors, he obviously thought that he should carry a gun for protection as well. I, nor my son, had any idea that he had a gun,” she said. “So on a Saturday back in July we decided that we wanted to pick up some pizza for dinner. Andrew Jr. was driving and Andrew Sr. was in the passenger seat and I was in the back seat.

 
“I’m glad that God allowed me this much time with my father because some kids never have the chance to receive a father’s love.”  – Andrew Woodley Jr. (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)

 
In happier days, Andrew Woodley Sr., his wife, Linda Woodley, and their son, Andrew Woodley Jr.

“When we got to Pizza Hut, Andrew Sr. began to get out of the car and something fell out of his pocket onto the ground, and all of a sudden we hear this loud bang. My husband then takes off running down the street. Andrew Jr. says, ‘Mom, I think I have been shot.’ The workers inside Pizza Hut called 911 for us because Andrew Jr. had started bleeding, he was grazed pretty good.”

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 270-pound Andrew Jr. had made his way into the living room. “I didn’t even know I was shot at first,” he said. “I had to look at my arm to know.”

His mother continued:

“So the police, an ambulance and the Fire Department arrived and we rushed Jr. to the hospital in non- critical condition and he was released the next day. Meanwhile we had no idea where my husband had run off to. I knew that what had happened spooked him and he just panicked and ran.”

“So when did you learn that the police had found him,” I asked?

“It was that following Monday that the police came to me and told me that they had found the gun in a ditch and also had found my husband dead on someone’s rooftop. They said that he was in a praying position with his hands closed together and head bowed. They also stated that rigor mortis had set in so he had to have been there for awhile,” Linda Woodley said.

“So I assume that’s where he ran to and hid from the police that day. It has been so hot outside this summer and even though we are waiting on the final autopsy we have gathered that he probably died of a heat stroke while sitting up there on top of the roof, praying.”

I then noticed the countless photos of Andrew Woodley Jr. playing high school sports. Pictures of him, his father and his mother, side by side, loving and proud.

“My husband lost his job as a truck driver for Kroger back in January. He had been very depressed and staying up late nights just thinking. He was upset that he wasn’t able to find a job. It seems like it does something to a man when he can’t work and provide for his family,” she said.

“We are a church going family and we know that God will provide and I would tell him that all the time. I knew he had been an awesome husband for me, so I wasn’t going to let a few months sway my opinion of him. Even when I had to start working two jobs for us to make it, before I would leave for work he would always say, ‘Baby, I’m sorry.’ I would say, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’re going to be Ok.’

“So he was not just some nobody that was found dead on a roof. He was a husband and a great father who made a mistake, and anyone who doesn’t believe that don’t care nothing about the truth.”

Said Andrew Jr.: “I’m glad that God allowed me this much time with my father because some kids never have the chance to receive a father’s love.”

(Kelvin Cowans, aka Six-Four, can be reached at (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

Comments   

 
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-2 #1 Six~Four~ 2012-10-03 16:41
Kelvin Cowans aka Six~Four
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