The Deadly Love of Millard Lee, Part 2

The innocent Miss Suttles lay dead on the alter of the country church and, in the confusion, Millard Lee slipped out of the church.

No one thought to stop him because everyone thought there had been some sort of an accident. No one dreamed  Millard Lee had murdered the girl he loved so dearly in cold blood simply because she did not love him.

Earl Suttles was Lila’s younger brother, and he appeared to have been the only person who had seen Millard shoot his sister. He raced to catch up with Lee outside the church.

Millard saw him and pulled out his pistol. He swore he’d kill Earl if he came any closer. The boy, stunned, stopped short of following Lee any further. Earl didn’t know Lila was dead and returned to the church to check on her.

Millard, in the meantime, formulated a hasty plan to go to Atlanta, some 175 miles north. But first, he felt compelled to incriminate himself. He went to the home of a neighbor, Mrs. John Oliver,  and told her he had killed Miss Suttles.  Mrs. Oliver’s reaction is unknown. Then, Millard went to the home of Mrs. E. G. Childress, and told her the same thing, adding, “I have been thinking of this for a long time, but my pistol has done more than I wanted it to do.”

Afterwards, he went to the home of Mrs. Childress’ grown son, Steve Childress. Steve said hello to Millard, who replied, “I have killed my darling Lila, and I want you to kill me.” Steve only stared at him, unsure what he was talking about.

After this, Millard went to his father’s home, where he got $100. It’s unclear whether the money was Millard’s or given to him by his father, but it’s more likely it was the latter. While he was at home, he told his family what he had done. Then he left for Atlanta.

The grieving congregation carried Lila’s body to her parents’ home, where it would stay until she was buried. Coroner Stamps was sent for and told to meet the family at their home.

A representative from the Atlanta Constitution went to the Suttles home and spoke to Lila’s father. Despite the crass intrusion on his grief, Dr. Suttles revealed some new and interesting information. Millard had apparently spoken to the doctor before church and invited himself over for dinner that evening. “Before church services, Lee had told me that he was going to take dinner with me, and I had told him that I would be glad to have him come to my home.” Evidently a hospitable man, Dr. Suttles had approached the preacher after the service to see if he cared to join the family for dinner as well. He’d had his back turned to the room when they were startled by the first report. “I turned at once, thinking that someone had dropped a pistol and that it had been discharged accidentally,” he explained. “As I turned, I heard my daughter scream and I immediately ran toward her. There was another report, and I reached her just in time to hear her cry, ‘Oh, Papa!’” Though he had watched her breathe for about five minutes, Lila said no more before she passed away. 

As to Millard Lee, Dr. Suttles said, “I do not know what prompted him to [commit] this crime, as my daughter had never encouraged him and he certainly had no right to claim her friendship. She was not engaged to anyone else, and I do not see why he should have been jealous.”

Coroner Stamps and a jury soon made an appearance at the Suttles home and an inquest was held. The verdict was, “We, the jury, find the deceased came to her death as the result of a wound from a pistol in the hands of Millard Lee, and we recommend that the said Millard Lee be held for murder.”

No one objected, if only Millard Lee could be found. By then, he was discovered to have the left the area. A posse rapidly formed and the air was thick with threats against the perpetrator of this atrocity. Millard, should he be unfortunate enough to be found, would no doubt face violence at the hands of his pursuers.

Go to Part 3!

One thought on “The Deadly Love of Millard Lee, Part 2

  1. Pingback: The Deadly Love of Millard Lee | old spirituals

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