Ore Knob Mine murders revisited in new book

Wil Petty Staff Writer

September 24, 2013

A Wilkes County author has written a book which revisits the Ore Knob Mine murders of the 1980s.

Rose Haynes, of Hays, goes into all the different details of the murders in “The Ore Knob Mine Murders: The Crimes, the Investigation and the Trials.”

Haynes originally started the book in the 1980s, but went back to the topic in 2009.

“When I saw (the murders) in the paper I decided that somebody should write a book about what people could do to each other,” she said.

Two bodies were found in the mine, but it is believed that as many as 23 bodies were inside the 250-foot shaft. The investigation made national news.

“It was all over the United States,” Haynes said. “The networks were showing the photos of the police bringing the dead bodies up.”

The two bodies found were those of Tom Forrester and Lonnie Gamboa of Asheville. The Outlaw motorcycle gang was responsible for the murders.

“The Outlaws were set up in the small towns,” Haynes said. “They just about tore this one apart.”

Bodies were thrown into the shaft on Christmas Eve of 1981. Haynes said one body was frozen to the ground while the other was found because the search team saw the leg.

At the time, investigators could not afford to see if the 21 additional bodies were in the mine. The shaft was closed off and sealed.

“It was too expensive,” Haynes said. “(The investigators) just didn’t have the money to go in and search.”

Haynes went in depth in her book, published by McFarland & Company out of Jefferson, interviewing key figures involved in the investigation. She also was able to interview Eugene Vine, who was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I spent three years rewriting it, because McFarland would not publish anything I did not have the papers to prove,” Haynes said.

The book is available through McFarland, and can be bought on Amazon.

Haynes is a former journalist, reporting for the Jefferson Times, Wilkes Journal-Patriot, Winston-Salem Journal and State magazine.

For more information on the book, or to order it, visit The book costs $35.