Thursday, May 24, 2012

Old Main Fire and Death



Were any of you readers there?

On January 22, 1959, Old Main Dormitory at Mississippi State University was home to 1,100 college students. But early on Friday morning, January 23rd, the students were homeless. Old Main was ablaze and the ruins of the largest student housing facility in the United States would later produce the charred body of one of its own. Extremely cold weather, final exams, and students gone home for semester break contributed to the very difficult task and seemingly endless confusion of trying to confirm that all residents of Old Main had escaped the devastating blaze. After three days of investigation, evidence pointed to the strong possibility that the fire had been deliberately set. Searchers found a human skull in the smoldering rubble. The crushed skull was not the result of the fire, a fall or failed escape. It appeared to be murder. Had the fire been deliberately set to cover up a murder? How in the world does college life lead to murder and arson?

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Clipping from Brices Crossroads Interpretive Center archives. Text from a book description, wonder what exactly happened???

9 comments:

  1. Who died in the fire? Or whatever?

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  2. Where was Paul Harvey when this happened? I'd like to hear "the rest of the story".

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  3. The victim was said to have been Henry Williamson and some folks reported seeing him outside the burning building but he supposedly went back in for some reason.

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  4. A fictional account by Joe Woods called "Old Main Burning: A tale of love and murder in Mississippi" was published in 2005. Which is the source of the paragraph posted with the photo. No truth to it evidently.

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    1. Was he not the roommate of the guy that murdered the woman in Columbus and was found guilty and spent the rest of his life in prison? John.....

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    2. We're trying to get the book. However it is fictional more than factual. Wish I knew the whole true story.

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    3. Carl, the name I was trying to think of is John Maddox. Ihad heard that they were roommates. Of course Maddox went to Parchman for a crime in Columbus

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    4. Thanks, Bob. Good info. I can follow up now. Gotta get out and go to Simon's funeral. CU later.

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  5. John Maddox was tried and convicted in 1960, school year after Old Main burned. He was convicted of murdering his next door neighbor in Columbus. I read about his getting out of prison a decade or so ago.

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