Mickey Bryan was shot to death at her home in Clifton, Texas in 1985. She was 44 years old. Her husband, Joe Bryan, was convicted in her murder. He was released from prison on parole in 2020, and insists he did not kill his wife.
Mickey Bryan was a fourth grade teacher and her husband was a Texas high school principal. He spent nearly 33 years in prison after being convicted twice in his wife’s murder. After he was granted parole, he continues to work with attorneys, his family and The Innocence Project of Texas, who are seeking to exonerate him.
ABC 20/20 airs a special on the case on the 21st anniversary of Mickey Bryan’s death and murder. The new episode airs tonight, Friday, October 15, 2021 at 9 p.m. Eastern time. “The Principal’s Wife” is the second episode of Season 44. It will also be released on Hulu for streaming the next day.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mickey Bryan Was Shot 4 Times With a Revolver, & Investigators Never Found the Weapon the Killer Used in the Murder
Investigators did not find the murder weapon used to kill Mickey Bryan, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. There were no eyewitnesses, the newspaper reported, and attorneys representing Joe Bryan said his odometer and gas purchases indicated he did not return home from Austin – 120 miles away – before the murder. He was in Austin, Texas for a principal’s conference when his wife was killed.
Mickey Bryan was found dead after she did not show up for work on October 15, 1985, according to ABC News. The elementary school principal, who was her boss, went to her house with her parents and found her body in the bedroom, the news outlet reported. She had been shot four times with a .357 caliber revolver. The revolver had been loaded with snake rounds, which are rounds that include a plastic cap filled with lead pellets, ABC reported. The couple used a similar gun to kill rattlesnakes on the property, the article said.
Mickey Bryan was buried at the Lanes Chapel Memorial Cemetery in Valley Mills, Bosque County, Texas, the same county where she was born on May 17, 1941, according to Find a Grave. Her full name was Mickey Marlene Blue Bryan.
“Kind and gentle,” her gravestone says. “Forever in our hearts and memories.”
Joe Bryan Called His Wife His ‘Other Self’ & Said the Exoneration Fight Will Be ‘An Uphill Battle’
Bryan spoke affectionately of his wife in interviews with ABC News, and said he hopes to one day visit her grave and tell her the case is solved.
“I’m not a killer. I didn’t kill Mickey. I loved Mickey, she was my other self,” he told ABC News. “I hope to be found actually innocent so it’s really truly over with. Then for the first time in 34 years I can have a sigh of relief, and I can go visit Mickey’s grave and tell her, ‘We know who did it.'”
Bryan told the Waco Tribune-Herald he knows he may never be exonerated.
“I think it is an uphill battle, but you can’t give up hope,” Bryan said, according to the Tribune-Herald. “You have to think that someday someone will realize that we made a big mistake and we need to correct this, and we just haven’t met that person yet. It is highly unusual that people can perjure themselves in two trials and get away with it and that evidence can be manipulated and they can get away with it.”
Mickey Bryan’s sister, Penny Blue, told ABC News she still believes Joe Bryan murdered her sister.
Joe Bryan told ABC News the last time he spoke to his wife was when he called her from Austin, Texas, while he was on his business trip.
“I said, ‘I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow.’ She said, ‘I love you, too. I’ll see you tomorrow,'” Bryan recalled. And it didn’t happen.”