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regi

Muriel Baldridge, 1949, Prestonsburg, KY

90 posts in this topic

I know this thread is rather old, bit I just finished reading the book last night.  

Even before the end when modern Law Enforcement Officers gave their opinion on the case, I couldn't help but notice how the investigation was botched from the start, as based on what is presented in the book.  I'm not sure if it was pressure to convict, maybe an L.E.O. looking for their name on the front page, or maybe both.  

Not securing the crime scene was a big no-no.  I never once heard mention of collecting fingerprint evidence.  But perhaps the worst was giving the items Muriel was wearing back to her family.  I'm not sure what they thought this would accomplish, I know it didn't make them feel any better.  While the technology we have now was unknown during this era, I can't see giving evidence back as protocol even in those days.  Especially without a conviction in place.

A couple of things that intrigues me about the case is the testimony of the Godsey's against Lon Moles.  In one way I think, why would they try to help convict what appears to be a faithful customer?  I would love to know more about their credibility.  Then at the same time, rewards were offered, law enforcement may have used their illegal bootlegging operation against them in order to get a favorable testimony.  Everything in this case leads to botched police work.

Olen Collins and Bill Gamble intrigue me because of what appeared to be very specific knowledge of Prestonsburg and the surrounding areas, even though neither were from Prestonsburg.  Then again, a detective coukd have very well fed them this information to make a confession stronger.

Being completely speculative here, and based on what little know factual information we have, disregarding anything that may have been fabricated, I believe her attacker was male.  It's obvious and very admirable that Muriel was a strong willed young lady.  I see it very possible that after ignoring an advance made by an intoxicated suitor, they became belligerent, Muriel may have punched him, or kicked him and took his breath away, and that made him furious, "no damn woman is going to do that to me and live." This may have very well been his mindset.  

Considering Lon Moles, I would love to investigate his prior relationship with Muriel's father (at work and outside of work).  Something tells me that this may have been one of the reasons that police looked at him to begin with.

 

I could discuss this for hours, it's a fascinating and very sad story.  

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On ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015 at 8:24 AM, regi said:

^ Well, he first denied any involvement.

Since Muriel was last known to be headed home from a carnival, investigators spoke to the carnival workers, one whom was a 15 year old named Olen Collins who not only accused Gamble (a former carnival worker by that time) but said he was actually there when it happened. Now for many reasons, Collins' story made no sense but Gamble did have a criminal record and he was suspected in other crimes and so he was arrested. (Btw, that's an aspect I found enlightening, that is, just in general, how much weight authorities placed on witness statements alone and how so very little info. or "evidence" was necessary to make an arrest/bring charges.)

Anyway, two weeks later, Collins admitted that he'd made up the story. (At the time of his first statement, he'd refused a poly, but when he admitted that the story was made up, he was then willing to submit to one if his mother agreed. He said he'd first refused a ploy "because I was afraid the courthouse roof would blow up.")

A few weeks later, after that already interesting turn of event, Gamble signed a confession, although he recanted the next day and claimed that the confession was made under duress from the police and explained that he "didn't even know how to read or write".

As some one said, did the police check out the girls that were with Muriel ?

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13 hours ago, docyabut2 said:

As some one said, did the police check out the girls that were with Muriel ?

From what I can recall, no. :hmm:

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26 minutes ago, regi said:

From what I can recall, no. :hmm:

Sounds like a whole lot of nothing went on in that investigation. . .

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17 hours ago, docyabut2 said:

As some one said, did the police check out the girls that were with Muriel ?

I know this thread is rather old, bit I just finished reading the book last night.  

Even before the end when modern Law Enforcement Officers gave their opinion on the case, I couldn't help but notice how the investigation was botched from the start, as based on what is presented in the book.  I'm not sure if it was pressure to convict, maybe an L.E.O. looking for their name on the front page, or maybe both.  

Not securing the crime scene was a big no-no.  I never once heard mention of collecting fingerprint evidence.  But perhaps the worst was giving the items Muriel was wearing back to her family.  I'm not sure what they thought this would accomplish, I know it didn't make them feel any better.  While the technology we have now was unknown during this era, I can't see giving evidence back as protocol even in those days.  Especially without a conviction in place.

A couple of things that intrigues me about the case is the testimony of the Godsey's against Lon Moles.  In one way I think, why would they try to help convict what appears to be a faithful customer?  I would love to know more about their credibility.  Then at the same time, rewards were offered, law enforcement may have used their illegal bootlegging operation against them in order to get a favorable testimony.  Everything in this case leads to botched police work.

Olen Collins and Bill Gamble intrigue me because of what appeared to be very specific knowledge of Prestonsburg and the surrounding areas, even though neither were from Prestonsburg.  Then again, a detective coukd have very well fed them this information to make a confession stronger.

Being completely speculative here, and based on what little know factual information we have, disregarding anything that may have been fabricated, I believe her attacker was male.  It's obvious and very admirable that Muriel was a strong willed young lady.  I see it very possible that after ignoring an advance made by an intoxicated suitor, they became belligerent, Muriel may have punched him, or kicked him and took his breath away, and that made him furious, "no damn woman is going to do that to me and live." This may have very well been his mindset.  

Considering Lon Moles, I would love to investigate his prior relationship with Muriel's father (at work and outside of work).  Something tells me that this may have been one of the reasons that police looked at him to begin with.

 

I could discuss this for hours, it's a fascinating and very sad story.  

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I think a lot of mistakes were made, most likely out of pressure for a conviction

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On ‎9‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 3:35 PM, tack77 said:

I know this thread is rather old, bit I just finished reading the book last night.  

Even before the end when modern Law Enforcement Officers gave their opinion on the case, I couldn't help but notice how the investigation was botched from the start, as based on what is presented in the book.  I'm not sure if it was pressure to convict, maybe an L.E.O. looking for their name on the front page, or maybe both.  

Not securing the crime scene was a big no-no.  I never once heard mention of collecting fingerprint evidence.  But perhaps the worst was giving the items Muriel was wearing back to her family.  I'm not sure what they thought this would accomplish, I know it didn't make them feel any better.  While the technology we have now was unknown during this era, I can't see giving evidence back as protocol even in those days.  Especially without a conviction in place.

A couple of things that intrigues me about the case is the testimony of the Godsey's against Lon Moles.  In one way I think, why would they try to help convict what appears to be a faithful customer?  I would love to know more about their credibility.  Then at the same time, rewards were offered, law enforcement may have used their illegal bootlegging operation against them in order to get a favorable testimony.  Everything in this case leads to botched police work.

Olen Collins and Bill Gamble intrigue me because of what appeared to be very specific knowledge of Prestonsburg and the surrounding areas, even though neither were from Prestonsburg.  Then again, a detective coukd have very well fed them this information to make a confession stronger.

Being completely speculative here, and based on what little know factual information we have, disregarding anything that may have been fabricated, I believe her attacker was male.  It's obvious and very admirable that Muriel was a strong willed young lady.  I see it very possible that after ignoring an advance made by an intoxicated suitor, they became belligerent, Muriel may have punched him, or kicked him and took his breath away, and that made him furious, "no damn woman is going to do that to me and live." This may have very well been his mindset.  

Considering Lon Moles, I would love to investigate his prior relationship with Muriel's father (at work and outside of work).  Something tells me that this may have been one of the reasons that police looked at him to begin with.

 

I could discuss this for hours, it's a fascinating and very sad story.  

In 1949 did the investors check for finger prints, any thing under dead bodies prints, ect. What tests do they do ? 

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To add, I meant if  Muriel  fought with who ever killed her by dragging her down off the bridge,  there would be some evidence found on her body. 

 

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19 hours ago, docyabut2 said:

In 1949 did the investors check for finger prints, any thing under dead bodies prints, ect. What tests do they do ? 

Yes, in 1949 it was arguably the best investigative tool available.  

While dna testing was unheard of at the time, testing for blood type was common.  It certainly couldn't confirm a murderer, but it could at least eliminate suspects.  

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Posted (edited)

A couple of things I'm curious about if anyone has any insight.  I read the True Detective article about Muriel's Murder and I'm aware that names are changed to protect the identities of certain people.  In this article it states that Muriel and her friends parted ways at Seventh and Mayo Trail.  While I'm a aware of a Mayo Trail in Pikeville, I've been unable to locate a Seventh (7th) Street or  a Mayo trail in Prestonsburg.  I've searched current and historical maps with no luck.  Were these street names changed for the article?  Or was there actually a Seventh and Mayo Trail?

The reason I ask is this.  It seems in the book and newspaper, you get a visual of these girls standing at the foot of the bridge and Muriel saying "no, I've done this a hundred  times, it's all good, I'll go myself."  Evidently in this short period, two adolcent males catch word that Muriel is walking across the bridge by herself.  I would love to know more about this, because it just doesn't fit.  

 

Any thoughts? 

Edited by tack77
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Posted (edited)

Also, how about this bloody shirt found at the scene?  Why on this earth would they return it to Lon Moles?  Is that for real?

I don't understand that logic.  We're they saying they know he did it so "here's your shirt back"?

That shirt could solve this crime today.  I've reread this portion a dozen times, hoping I've read it wrong.  If this is true it means one of two things.

1) The courts, detectives and others in charge were the dumbest officials in the history of the criminal justice system, or

2)  Lon Moles paid some people off.

Edited by tack77
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Posted (edited)

On 9/16/2017 at 10:49 AM, tack77 said:

A couple of things I'm curious about if anyone has any insight.  I read the True Detective article about Muriel's Murder and I'm aware that names are changed to protect the identities of certain people.  In this article it states that Muriel and her friends parted ways at Seventh and Mayo Trail.  While I'm a aware of a Mayo Trail in Pikeville, I've been unable to locate a Seventh (7th) Street or  a Mayo trail in Prestonsburg.  I've searched current and historical maps with no luck.  Were these street names changed for the article?  Or was there actually a Seventh and Mayo Trail?

The reason I ask is this.  It seems in the book and newspaper, you get a visual of these girls standing at the foot of the bridge and Muriel saying "no, I've done this a hundred  times, it's all good, I'll go myself."  Evidently in this short period, two adolcent males catch word that Muriel is walking across the bridge by herself.  I would love to know more about this, because it just doesn't fit.  

 

Any thoughts? 

Oh, plenty, I just don't know where to start!

About the street names, that's just one of the many issues that left me frustrated to the max! Anyway, it sounds to me like the author of the book must have used that same info as it was reported in the magazine and that since that mag. report, many of the street names have changed as the town grew.

Oh, yes...I've tried to locate vintage maps and photos to find those streets and also to find other locations referenced in the book, but I never did have much luck...I did come across a photo of a school building as it was under construction, but the building was of an entirely different architectural style than the current school building and I couldn't ascertain whether it's even the same site, although if it isn't, then I think it was likely very near there. I do think I've ascertained where the hospital was, though, and if I'm correct, it was the town's first hospital and it was located in what's referred to as the Auxier Hotel Building (built for the Auxlier family as a hotel in 1930).

 

Edited by regi

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, tack77 said:

Also, how about this bloody shirt found at the scene?  Why on this earth would they return it to Lon Moles?  Is that for real?

I don't understand that logic.  We're they saying they know he did it so "here's your shirt back"?

I think that's what they were sayin'!

The same thing occurred in '79 when after the acquittal of Gene Hart, evidence including clothing worn by the victims was immediately handed over to the victim families. :wacko:

Edit: I should have explained that in that other case, the position of the state was that Hart and Hart alone committed the murders, and so after the acquittal, the attitude among authorities was that he'd gotten away with murder.

Edited by regi
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Posted (edited)

Through my research, and looking at historical maps of Prestonsburg, the high school is relatively in the same spot (building is newer, but the location is relatively the same).  With the most direct path home, she would have walked right past the high school, down the present day Arnold Street.  I'm not from Prestonsburg, but I did attend some football games there in the early 90's.

As far as giving evidence to the victims family,  that is horrible practice.  What's even worse is giving an acquitted defendant, the shirt of the murderer?  I can't even believe this is real:(

Edited by tack77

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37 minutes ago, tack77 said:

Through my research, and looking at historical maps of Prestonsburg, the high school is relatively in the same spot (building is newer, but the location is relatively the same).  With the most direct path home, she would have walked right past the high school, down the present day Arnold Street.

 

Thanks for that info. about the school, and I'm glad you made mention of their route back to the bridge because- since they'd left the game to go to a movie- I'd figured that the carnival must have been setup somewhere closer to the downtown area.

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I'm looking for a way to share these maps, but unfortunately this page only allows a .24 mb upload, let me work on it.

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Posted (edited)

^ Oh, I hope you can find a way to share those!

Now here's this: I'd figured that the Strand must have been where the girls saw a movie, but according to this info, it didn't exist in '49. :huh:

I'm thinking that maybe there was another theater by another name there before that one, although it doesn't come across that way to me...

What are your thoughts about where they would have gone to see a movie?

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/23943

http://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/Historic-Kentucky-Movie-Theater-Closing-Doors-Due-to-Rough-Economy-182631011.html

 

Edited by regi

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Yes, my best guess was it was the Abigail Theater, closed in 1968, located at 211 Court Street.  If you do a Google Street view, I believe the building is still there.  The location is more likely it, the Strand would have been a long hike from the West Prestonsburg Bridge.

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NOgYPbY.jpg

See if this works.  I noted the general location of the Abigail Theater, the Home of Lon Moles, The bridge, Muriel's home, you can see the high school and the entire area behind it, to the best of my knowledge is known as the Porter addition. 

Not noted is the street that runs closest and entirely parallel to the Levisa Fork River is Arnold Street.  If this is correct, then Muriel walked very near Lon Moles house at least twice that evening.

I'm still unsure where this softball game was at, I'm assuming near the High School but I'm not sure.

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This is a map of Prestonsburg in 1954, note the high school in the same general area. Taking an educated guess, I would say this open area behind the high school could have possibly been where this carnival was set up, and the softball game could have been right in that area also, it makes sense.Er1NG6p.jpg

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Correction, I'm not sure what happened but the first picture I posted, the label for the West Prestonsburg Bridge is in the wrong location 

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14 hours ago, tack77 said:

Yes, my best guess was it was the Abigail Theater, closed in 1968, located at 211 Court Street.  If you do a Google Street view, I believe the building is still there.  The location is more likely it, the Strand would have been a long hike from the West Prestonsburg Bridge.

Well, that address for the Strand can't be right because this image below shows the corner of Court St. and Lake Dr.- the building with the mural is Court St. (where the Abigail was) and down Lake Dr. on the left, you can see the sign for the Strand. (The sign's barely visible, but that building with the clock tower is the Community Trust Bank  which is next door to the building where the Strand is.)

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.6679004,-82.7732872,3a,75y,193.25h,100.2t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sLcHZ0lHCN7aTSkC1nbaZuQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

This is the school building I mentioned that I'd seen in a photo, and at the very beginning is that same photo I'd seen. (At 4:21, notice Moles as one of the board members.) The building was located on 236 N. Lake St. (That address doesn't pull up the precise location, but it's very close.)

 

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12 hours ago, tack77 said:

Correction, I'm not sure what happened but the first picture I posted, the label for the West Prestonsburg Bridge is in the wrong location 

Speaking of the bridge, even in daylight you can't see from one end to the other! :passifier:

https://bridgehunter.com/ky/floyd/west-prestonsburg/

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Well, surely, Floyd "Mike" Horn (shown in the 6th and 7th photo down) and Donald "Dootney" Horn- who's mentioned in the book as having visited Muriel and left town hours before the murder- are likely brothers.

Note that his fondest memories are of hanging out at the depot. 

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfloyd/floyd_county_schools.htm

 

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