When Ann Branson of Madisonville, Kentucky, was violently killed, the incident quickly became the talk of the town. Even though family members were shocked, more than anything they wanted to find out who would take someone else's life.
Ann's nephew, Jack Branson, was particularly eager. He knew better than anyone not to focus on obvious answers. From his standpoint as a former U.S. Treasury agent, the most unlikely suspect had to be considered. It's not uncommon for homicide victims to know the killer in some fashion. The possibilities are endless – the next door neighbor, a professional colleague, or perhaps the co-chair of the community aid society.
Murder in Mayberry: Greed, Death, and Mayhem in a Small Town talks about the agonizing search for a killer to be brought to justice. Written by Jack Branson and his wife, Mary Kinney Branson, it offers a personal perspective on having a family member die of unnatural causes.
Perusing this non-fiction mystery, my heart went out to the Madisonville police. The last time they handled a violent death was 20 years prior. No matter how much they wanted to see the case solved, a lack of experience doesn't help.
One of the biggest surprises of all is the killer. Early suspicion opened the door to his being considered a prime suspect, but he was not the only one. Any proof was circumstantial at best, meaning a trial could show just how worthless it was. Worse things were to come before an arrest could be made.
Such as a flight to another country. In a spectacular move, this person fled to Costa Rica. Extradition for those accused of capital crimes would only be granted if the death penalty was taken off the table and parole was on. No prison term for the rest of one's natural life would be considered.
As true crime stories go, Murder in Mayberry is an interesting one. The facts are laid out for the reader to see in clear and concise fashion. Every avenue is explored when it comes to figuring out whodunit. Will people be on the edges of their seats as they go through chapters? Probably not. However, getting to know the Branson family and the citizens of Madisonville is worth the cost of the book itself.