WYMT | Eastern KY | News, Weather, Sports

Documentary will examine 1949 cold case

Michael Crisp, who directed and produced The Very Worst Thing, the documentary film about the 1958 Floyd County school bus disaster, has just announced that production has begun on his next film, a documentary about the unsolved murder of Muriel Baldridge.

"Murder in the Mountains: The Muriel Baldridge Story" revisits the slaying of Muriel Baldridge, the 17-year old Prestonsburg High School cheerleader who was found beaten to death on the morning of June 28, 1949. After a yearlong investigation that featured several twists and turns, culminating with a sensational trial and a controversial verdict, the case remains unsolved to this day.

THE TRAGEDY

On the evening of June 27, 1949, Muriel Baldridge, a pretty young high school girl from West Prestonsburg, attended a carnival with 3 of her girlfriends. Later that evening, she and her friends parted ways at the West Prestonsburg bridge. As she began making her way home across the bridge, she was abducted and assaulted by an unknown attacker. Her screams were heard throughout the neighborhood, but the crime went unseen and her killer vanished into the night.

The following morning, Muriel’s body was discovered lying on the riverbank underneath the West Prestonsburg bridge. Her family, as well as the community, were heartbroken.

THE INVESTIGATION

Evidence was gathered at the scene, which included an 8-inch lead pipe which many believed to be the murder weapon. Other clues included several footprints found near her body, as well as an empty whiskey bottle found near the bridge. Other physical evidence would soon materialize, as would eyewitness testimony from a 15-year old carnival worker who claimed that he saw the murder occur.

The investigation also featured a confession from a former carnival worker who claimed he killed Muriel, but his confession was withdrawn the next day. Another young man from a prominent family in Pikeville confessed to the crime, but he also repudiated his statement soon afterward.

After several strange twists which included “truth serum” interrogations, a jailbreak, and a statewide manhunt, a grand jury eventually indicted two Prestonsburg men, one of which was a prominent member of the Floyd County Board of Education. After their murder trial, which provided just as many twists and turns as the murder probe itself, it was easy to see why the Floyd County Times called the case “probably the most bizarre and confusing in the annuals of Eastern Kentucky crime”. The murder of Muriel Baldridge remains unsolved to this day, and is still considered a “cold case” by local law enforcement officials.

THE FILM

Remix Films is working closely with the Baldridge family, who approached Michael Crisp about making a film about Muriel’s story. Lynn Preston, who along with her husbaand John Preston, who is Muriel’s nephew, has been instrumental in gathering information about Muriel’s life and the investigation into her murder. The Prestons have contributed several photographs to the film, and several of Muriel’s friends and family members have already agreed to come forward to be interviewed in the film.

"Murder in the Mountains: The Muriel Baldridge Story" will be released in the spring of 2012.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?

If you have important information about the case and would be interested in being interviewed for the documentary, please let us know. Additionally, if you have personal photographs from the 1940s and 1950s of Muriel, her friends, or her family, please let us know. We are also interested in personal photographs from that era of the following locations:

The C&O depot station located in West Prestonsburg
West Prestonsburg bridge and/or the homes within its proximity
The hospital that was located in West Prestonsburg
The old courthouse
The old baseball/softball field
Prestonsburg High School

We are also interested in speaking with people who knew members of Muriel’s family very well. We would also like to speak with anyone who knew any of the following local people rather well and would be interested in being interviewed for our film:

Troy Sturgill (Sheriff during the investigation)
W.L. Rice (Deputy Sheriff during the investigation)
Epp Lafferty (Chief of Police during the investigation)
Gradie Shepard (Coroner during the investigation)
Lon Moles (freight agent for the C&O Railroad)
E.K. Dotson (former restaurant owner and taxicab operator)
Clyde & Julia May Godsey (trial witnesses)
Elvin Goble (gas station attendant)
R.L. Shepard (high school teacher)
R.C. Dyer (building contractor)

If you have any information that you feel would be of help to the film, please call Michael Crisp at (859) 509-0494 or email him at remixfilmsinc@gmail.com.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WYMT CONTACT INFO 199 Black Gold Blvd. Hazard, KY 41701 606-436-5757 - switchboard 606-439-9968 - newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 121292519 - wkyt.com/a?a=121292519