Playwright’s mother killed in Jackson

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

A former Brookhaven resident died at a Jackson hospital Thursdayafter she was found beaten and possibly stabbed at her home inJackson.

Jackson police spokesman Robert Graham said Lydy Becker HenleyCaldwell, 74, mother of playwright Beth Henley, was taken to theUniversity of Mississippi Medical Center and died as a result ofher injuries shortly after 8 a.m. A Jackson man was beingquestioned in the death, he said.

Family members said Caldwell was originally from the Brookhavenarea.

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A spokesman for Beth Henley, a Jackson native whose worksinclude ”Crimes of the Heart” and ”Miss Firecracker Contest,”said Thursday the playwright was informed of her mother’s death ina telephone call to her California home.

”She is on an airplane now headed to Jackson,” the spokesmansaid.

Graham said police were notified of a possible burglary atCaldwell’s home about 4:15 a.m. and found the front door open whenthey arrived.

He said authorities learned later that Caldwell’s car, a 2000Buick LeSabre, had been stolen.

Shortly after 8 a.m., a police officer spotted the car at aJackson intersection. Graham said the officer stopped the car andtook the driver into custody.

Graham said Willie Wilson, 33, of Jackson was being questionedby detectives who ”believe that he is responsible for or hasknowledge of the death of Lydy Caldwell.”

”Crimes of the Heart” won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and theNew York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play of 1981,the year it first appeared on Broadway. The film version of”Crimes of the Heart” was nominated for an Academy Award.

Mrs. Caldwell was the sister of Brookhaen businessman MikeBecker.