Today, her name is largely unrecognizable, but a new release, “The Murder of Marion Miley” published by the University Press of Kentucky and written by award-winning magazine and crime writer Beverly Bell, explores the female sports star and shines new light on her life and untimely death.
Winning every leading women's tournament except the elusive national title, this unassuming 27-year-old woman was beloved by all she met, including celebrities like jazz crooner Bing Crosby. With ambitions to become a doctor, it seemed Miley was headed for greatness.
But on Sept. 28, 1941, six gunshots broke through the early morning stillness of the Lexington Country Club. Miley had been brutally murdered. News of her death spread quickly, headlining major papers such as The New York Times. Support flooded in, spurring police in the hunt for her killers. However, the bombing of Pearl Harbor less than two months later would redirect public attention and sweep Miley's story to a forgotten corner of time — until now.
Bell’s book recounts the ensuing manhunt and trial, exploring the impact of class, family and opportunity in a world where steely determination is juxtaposed with callous murderous intent. As the narrative voice oscillates between Miley's father, her best friend, and one of her killers, an ever-present specter of what could have been — not just for Miley, but for all those affected by her tragic death — is conjured. Drawing on intensive research typical of the true crime genre, Beverly Bell produces a passionate homage to one of the greatest golfers of the early 20th century.
Bell’s work has appeared in Arizona Highways, Indianapolis Monthly, Keeneland magazine, and Kentucky Monthly. Bell is also a featured consultant in Kentucky Education Television's recent documentary “Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story.”
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