Banner celebrates with a look back through headlines
by Debbie Rolen
The legend of Mamie Thurman began with the brutal murder of a 32-year-old woman. Her murder made headlines not only back in 1932, but her story lives on because the murder was never solved.
It all began when the body was found by a youngster picking blackberries along a mountainous road on June 22 of that year. The murder was what would be described as “overkill” she had scrapes, cuts and contusions, had been shot twice and her throat was slashed.
The body had had been thrown out into the weeds about 15 feet from the road.
Speculation began and the rumor mill ground out theory after theory. Married to Logan city policeman Jack Thurman, Mrs. Thurman was known to frequent the speak-easys in downtown Logan, and she was allegedly having an affair with Harry Robertson, a Logan businessman. Robertson later admitted in court to having “improper relations” with Thurman.
“Police find blood clues in Robertson home—Probers investigating theory of murder in Robertson basement,” were June 24, 1932 Logan Banner headlines. Also on the front page of the paper that day was a history of events from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. documenting the day of the funeral.
On June 28, the headline “Robertson released on $10,000 bond – Hearing in Thurman case adjourned until July 7.”
The investigation took a turn, with headline that read, “New evidence is found in Thurman case; prosecutors confer behind closed doors.”
Robertson employed a black handyman, Clarence Stephenson, who was said to be very short in stature. Maybe even a dwarf by today’s standards. Robertson was blamed for the crime and arrested and transported to the Mingo County jail.
July 8, headlines “Thurman blood on Robertson’s car revealed in tests of blood by state chemist,” and, “Gossip Mongers Rapped: Throngs gather long before opening of court. Many bring own chairs from home.”
The same day, the Banner printed another front-page story, “Startling information learned through reliable source – Stephenson writes, asks sister to tell Robertson not to worry, that he wouldn’t tell.”
On Mamie Thurman’s death certificate, it says she was buried at Logan Memorial Park in McConnell, while other stories say that her body was transported to her hometown of Bradfordsville, Kentucky. But her actual resting place is part of the mystery because the cemetery in Kentucky has no record of Thurman’s interment.
The scandalous tales and accusations faded into a mysterious cold case and transitioned into a ghost story and the topic for many magazine articles and books.
There have been many claims of sightings by people who drive near the Holden area, especially near the 22 Mine Road where Thurman’s body was found. The stories say they saw or picked up a woman wearing old-fashioned clothing, only to see her vanish.
This ghost story is a Halloween favorite, but it is thought that her soul constantly wanders the hills, seeking justice and never allowing the taking of her young life to be forgotten.
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