Sports buffs and college basketball followers will probably recognize the name Donald Dollar - and rightly so. Dollar has spent what could be considered a lifetime in the coaching profession, boasting a resume that proves that he is indeed the man for the job. Faye Jackson Dollar however is a name that few will probably recognize, but it’s her story that we hope will be remembered and one day put to rest.
The Dollar Family
Donald and Faye Dollar had been married almost 13 years when they began having serious marital troubles. At the time Donald was coaching the Douglass High School’s basketball team, the Astros, a position he had held and excelled at for several years. Faye was a math teacher at Feldwood High School in College Park who was adored by her students and coworkers and the small family of four had built a life in Atlanta, Georgia.
The resulting divorce was finalized in September of 1980, and left mixed feelings amongst the ex-couple’s friends and family. According to Donald Faye had implied to some of her friends and family during the divorce that he was a bully and had treated her badly, a sentiment he felt was untrue and said due to the troubles the couple were having. Those who were close to the couple reported that police had been summoned to the house several times during domestic disputes and that the divorce process had been a bitter one.
On the night of November 30, 1980, Faye and Donald’s two sons Chad (4) and Cameron (9) were in bed at their mother’s home at 378 King Henry Street SW in Atlanta. Faye had been given custody of the children during the couple’s divorce. The boys were already asleep by 9pm when 38 year old Faye left the house, apparently to run an errand. Some accounts report that she received a phone call around this time that may have prompted her to leave the house.
On Sunday, December 1st, Chad and Cameron awoke to find that their mother’s gold car was not in the driveway and promptly contacted their father, who reported her missing to the police. She had not taken any clothing with her, leading police to believe that she had only intended to be away from home for a short amount of time. In 13 years it was the first time that Faye had not shown up for work and authorities immediately suspected foul play. That feeling compounded when some of her personal belongings were found on Thursday, December 4th. Donald provided police with the license plate number of Faye’s car, and a national broadcast was issued with a description in hopes that someone would see it.
Out of Sight
Faye’s body was found around 8:15 that evening close to where her belongings were located, naked and placed facedown in the trunk of her car. The 1972 Monte Carlo had been left unattended in the parking lot of the Admiral Benbow Inn at 1470 Spring Street NW (the Atlanta Police Department: Cold Homicide Cases webpage lists this as “Admiral Benson Inn”, however newspaper advertisements state it is the former). The car had gone unnoticed, mainly because the license plate number police had been provided with was incorrect, and an Officer making rounds quickly located it after the description was updated. After the car had been processed for fingerprints a wrecker service pried open the trunk lock and discovered her lifeless body, the spare tire leaving a mark on her abdomen. The boys had recalled their mother wearing a red dress when she put them to bed the night she went missing, but no dress was recovered from the scene. Her black, shoulder-length hair was put up in curlers, and while some articles state that a gold chain was found around her neck others say that Faye took no jewelry with her that night.
The hotel’s security guards reported that they didn’t recall the Monte Carlo being in the parking while making their regular rounds on Tuesday night, and guests at the hotel who had been in the parking lot in Thursday’s daytime hours stated they didn’t recall seeing it either. Nor had she been registered as a guest at the inn. That left police to assume that the car had not been driven into the parking lot until Thursday, but where had it been and why so many days later? A photo of the Monte Carlo/crime scene was printed on the front page of some Friday, December 5, 1980, issues of The Atlanta Constitution; it was quickly removed during printing however and the paper issued a statement to readers citing that the photo violated its standards of good taste. This particular photo appears in the issue located here.
An autopsy would later reveal that Faye had died from a fatal blow behind the left ear with a blunt instrument and that she had been deceased for several days by the time she found. Officials were certain they knew what had been used as weapon, but declined to go public with that information at the time. Faye’s funeral was held at Mount Calvary Baptist Church at 11:30am on Tuesday, December 9, 1980, and she was buried in what is now the Fairview plot at Madison Historic Cemeteries in Madison, Georgia. She had been a dedicated member of the Bridgettes, and the club took out memorial dedications in The Atlanta Constitution for several years after her death.
Life Continues On
After his ex-wife’s death Donald became a target, fearing for the safety of himself and his two young boys. Threatening phone calls plagued the house, former friends and colleagues became wary and Dollar’s life was essentially put on public display while Faye’s murder was investigated as he continued coaching basketball and living in the community. Faye’s family, given the details they had heard before during the couple’s divorce, immediately looked at Donald as the prime suspect in her murder. It was something Donald could understand but was determined to prove wrong, stating he took polygraph tests and worked with police in an attempt to clear his name even though he was never officially named as a suspect.
He continued coaching the Astros throughout the investigation however, even arriving at a scheduled game just before tipoff the night after Faye’s body was found (the team would end up losing 67 to 51). During his career he spent over 35 years coaching high school basketball, taking the team to state more than 7 times, tucking three state titles under their belt and sending 38 players to Division I schools. His tough coaching nature paid off, 1989 saw his team listed as number 6 in the nation by USA Today. In 30 years of coaching, it was only in 1997 that Dollar suffered through the first losing season of his career. He later held several college coaching positions. Their son Chad would go on to graduate with a four-year degree from Milligan College in Tennessee and eventually hold a position with Georgia State. Cameron would eventually become an integral player in UCLA regaining their NCAA royalty status and began coaching college ball at just 22 years old.
Faye’s story is the only one that hasn’t moved on from that night almost 40 years ago, her memory trapped in an unsolved purgatory. Despite her popularity as a teacher and in the community no leads were ever presented that produced results, and the tragedy of her death slowly faded from the public eye. A search of her case online now yields less than a full page of results, and few newspapers have written of her death since the murder took place. Faye’s memory waits in the folds of newspapers tucked into the shelving of libraries and archives, waiting for the clue that will help set it free again.
Unsolved Murder Agency Contacts
Those with additional public information or contacts related to this article please contact us. Persons with information regarding the murder of Faye Jackson Dollar are urged to contact the Atlanta Police Department at (404) 614-6544 or your local law enforcement agency.
The Atlanta Constitution
- 05 Aug 1992 - On The Move Again
- 03 May 2007 - West Georgia Hires Dollar As Assistant
- 05 Mar 1981 - A Trying Year For Dollar, Astros
- 04 Dec 1997 - Clarkston
- 09 Apr 1995 - Dollar Rises: Tragedy To Glory
- 07 Dec 1980 - Atlanta Teacher Was Murdered By Blow With Blunt Instrument
- 05 Dec 1980 - Teacher’s Nude Body Found In Auto Trunk (Crime scene/Monte Carlo Photo)