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29 January 2007 @ 01:59 pm
Update: Mystery within a mystery  
Previously I wrote about a family murder mystery that I grew up hearing about. I last had a conversation about it with the wife of the victim's son in 2004 where I again heard the standard version--his father was found shot by a gas station, children parceled out among family members, my cousin raised with my grandmother and aunt as a sibling--all the usual details.

Imagine my surprise when I inquire from the newspaper as to the facts of the case, thinking I might get microfilm of an article about the murder--and instead, I learn this (I'm omitting some names for privacy):


I did some digging around this morning and made a few discoveries.

There is no murder investigation file at the Scotland County Sheriff's Department (which serves the entire county including the City of Memphis.

There were two newspapers in town at that time, The Memphis (Mo.) Reveille and the Memphis (Mo.) Democrat. The later had actually bought the other out and would soon consolidate to the Memphis Democrat. However, at that time, both were still be published, however they had pretty much the same contents since they were done by the same staff.

I checked with Gerth & Baskett Funeral Home. They have a record of the service that stated Mr. Paris passed away July 21, 1961.

I then went to the library and was able to find his obituary on microfilm. There is no mention of any foul play. In the following weeks paper there is a small thank you ad from the family.

I made some phone calls to some local folks I know who were around 45 years ago.

One contact I made was [name withheld], whose uncle owned Charlie's Super Service Station, which is located along Highway 136 (and is still there but out of operation - was last operated as Junction Petro) Mr. [ ] worked with Mr. Paris. He indicated that Mr. Paris died of a heart attack. He added that he had apparently attempted to commit suicide some years before and had shot himself in the face, leaving himself scarred with the gunshot wound(s).

If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.

[name withheld]
publisher ___ newspaper



In retrospect, it makes more sense given the timing if the children were divided up after the earlier suicide attempt than as late as 1961, when my cousin ("Uncle George") was an adult.

I am passing this information along to the daughter-in-law and grandson of the deceased Mr. Paris. His son already passed away.

I suspect that the story was altered to avoid the stigma of suicide. How sad...it makes me wonder how he was treated after his attempt.