AJC reporter reflects on Devier murder case, Stoner family’s kindness

From 1999: Roy Stoner walks his wife Mary back to their home in Adairsville, after Mary visits the grave of their daughter Mary Frances Stoner. The grave is behind their house and up a hill. The girl was raped and murdered when she was 12 years old, which at that point had been 20 years ago.

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From 1999: Roy Stoner walks his wife Mary back to their home in Adairsville, after Mary visits the grave of their daughter Mary Frances Stoner. The grave is behind their house and up a hill. The girl was raped and murdered when she was 12 years old, which at that point had been 20 years ago.

Darrell Gene Devier’s 1979 rape and killing of 12-year-old Adairsville girl Mary Frances Stoner is being talked about again thanks to attention from the Netflix show “Mindhunter,” which was released in October 2017.

Rhonda Cook, veteran reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reflects on her coverage of the case then and since.

As a reporter for 40 years I have covered dozens of executions, including 26 as a media witness inside the death chamber.

Only a few do I remember in detail and one of them is the case of Mary Frances Stoner.

I am not sure how much I wrote about her kidnapping, rape and murder because stories I wrote in 1979 are long gone.

What is branded in my memory are the conversations with her family leading up to Darrell Gene Devier’s execution in 1995 and a follow-up visit with them after he was electrocuted to ask if his death had brought them “closure.”

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Mary Stoner's Adairsville High School yearbook photo (Provided photo)

Credit: Provided photo

Mary Stoner's Adairsville High School yearbook photo (Provided photo)

Credit: Provided photo

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Mary Stoner's Adairsville High School yearbook photo (Provided photo)

Credit: Provided photo

Credit: Provided photo

The moment I walked into their house four years after Devier’s electrocution, I saw that it had not.

In my mind I still see the memorial in a special room dedicated to their long-gone 12-year-old daughter. I hear their anguish as they speak of Mary Frances 20 years after her murder and four years after her killer’s execution. I have a vivid memory of walking with her mother to her child’s grave just a few yards up the hill behind their house.

Families of murder seldom want to talk to reporters once an execution has been set.

But the Stoners were generous in sharing their heartbreak even as they prepared for the death of their little girl's killer and how the years and Devier's execution did not bring them peace.

If she had lived, Mary Frances would be well into middle age; probably around 48 or 49 years old. But for her parents, she will always be 12 years old and in the sixth grade.

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Darrell Gene Devier was a convicted rapist and murderer executed in 1995. His story was featured on the Netflix show "Mindhunter." The show follows FBI agents as they interview serial killers to better understand future criminals. Devier murdered Mary Frances Stoner, a 12-year-old in Bartow County, in 1979. Her body was found with signs of rape, choking and the head crushed. Devier matched the FBI's suspect profile almost exactly. He confessed and was convicted of rape and murder.