Mamie Thurman was murdered nearly 90 years ago in Logan. The mysterious circumstances surrounding her murder still captivates people today.
Though Clarence Stephenson, 38, an African-American handyman, was convicted of the crime, few people then or now believe he was actually the killer.
Many people surmised the murder involved more than one person, maybe some of Logan's most powerful men of the day.
The story has spawned books, countless newspaper and magazine articles, and now a play.
The Aracoma Story Incorporated will present the two-act drama “Mamie” at the historic Coalfield Jamboree theater in Logan in October. The play was written by Oceana native Joyce Robertson, who also serves as the secretary of The Aracoma Story Board of Directors.
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By all accounts, Mamie Thurman was a beautiful 32-year-old, who knew how to dress and how to attract the attention of the opposite sex.
She and her husband, Jack, who was 16 years older, had been living in a Logan apartment, owned by Harry and Louise Robertson, for eight years. The apartment was next to the Robertson house.
Jack Thurman was a night patrolman with the Logan City Police.
Harry Robertson, a Logan commissioner who worked at a local bank, had gotten Jack Thurman his job.
At the time of her death, Mamie and Harry had been having an affair for two years, according to court records.
Both were also reportedly members of Logan's infamous “Key Club.” Members had a key that allowed them to enter the “club” for the purposes of drinking (this was during Prohibition), having illicit sex, and other activities, according to historians.
In addition to testifying about his affair with Mamie Thurman, Harry Robertson revealed in court that she had provided him with a list of 16 men with whom she was also having affairs. The names were never made public, according to historians.
Clarence Stephenson worked for the Robertson family and lived in their attic room. Among his various responsibilities was driving Mamie to rendezvous with Harry, often when he had told his wife he was fox hunting.
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After 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 1932, Mamie Thurman left her apartment with a woman who had delivered some laundry, according to witnesses. The two went to a store, where Mamie reportedly obtained money to pay the woman for doing the laundry.
Mamie was last seen about 9 p.m. on that Tuesday, walking near a theater in Logan.
Mamie Thurman's mutilated body was found the following day, June 22, at about 2 p.m., according to court records. She had been dead about 12 hours.
The body was found on 22 Mountain Road on Trace Mountain. The road was named for Island Creek Coal Company's No. 22 mine operation, which had been closed.
Garland Davis, a young man who could neither hear nor speak and lived in the area, made the gruesome discovery while picking blackberries.
Mamie had been shot twice with a .38 caliber pistol, both entering near her left ear and exiting the skull. Neither of the bullets were found. Powder burns also covered her face and were found near her left ear.
Her throat had been slashed, severing the trachea, the carotid artery, and the jugular vein, according to a 1932 article in The Charleston Daily Mail.
Her neck was also broken at the second cervical vertebra. She also had bruising above her right eye.
There was little blood remaining in her body, according to the article.
Death resulted instantly from the gunshot wounds before the throat was cut, according to court records. The newspaper article, however, initially reported death resulted from the throat being cut.
The dye from her blue polkadot dress had leached onto her underwear due to a heavy rain that hit area a few hours before the body was found.
Her hat, which matched the dress, was found about 50 feet from the body with a bullet hole in it.
Also found was her purse with a little over $8 and a pack of cigarettes in it along with one shoe. She was also still wearing two rings, according to the court records, ruling out robbery as a motive.
Both Harry Robertson and Clarence Stephenson were arrested June 22 after blood stains were found in Harry's car and home. Stephenson, however, was the only one convicted.
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In 1983, Mamie's half-brother, George Morrison Jr., an assistant district attorney in New Mexico, returned to Logan to try to find out what happened to her and to purchase a headstone for her grave. He never found her grave.
He concluded in his own book, “Ghost Of 22 Mountain,” a fictional account of the story based on facts, that Clarence Stephenson was not guilty.
One of the scenarios, Morrison proposed in his book, was that Mamie may have had an illegal abortion that was botched. The bullets and other injuries were a ruse to cover up the procedure that had gone horribly wrong, based on Morrison's conjecture. Morrison also proposed Stephenson may have tried to get rid of the body for the doctor.
Many historians also raise suspicions of her husband, Jack, who had to have had at least some knowledge of some of her activities with other men. He testified, however, he did not.
There are also those who believe it could have been one of the 16 men on the infamous list or maybe a jealous wife.
In any case, several people have claimed to see the ghost of Mamie Thurman, and heard her screams, in the area on 22 Mountain Road where her body was found.