The Deadly Love of Millard Lee, Part 3

Ben Hill County was ablaze with wrath and nearly crushed by heartache. The beautiful and kind Miss Suttles lay dead in her family home. Her many siblings and her parents wept for her loss. The week progressed painfully and it was decided that Lila would be laid to rest in Mt. Gilead cemetery.

Millard Lee was still missing despite being pursued by a posse that had reached almost 500 in number. After leaving the church, Millard headed for the Chattahoochee River. He correctly anticipated bloodhounds would be procured from a nearby convict camp to track him down and the river would destroy his scent. “Conspicuous in the crowd that is after him are numerous firearms and a coil of hemp rope,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Local residents had no doubt Millard Lee had gone to the church on purpose to kill Lila Suttles. Why else should he carry his pistol into church? There was some tension in the community, however, as both the Lee and Suttles families were highly regarded.

Lila’s aunt told reporters she had spoken to her niece seriously about her strange admirer. She had noticed Millard’s obsession with Lila and advised her to “avoid him if she did not desire his company, as he might kill her sometime.”

Lila’s girlfriend’s indignantly protested the description of Millard as their friend’s lover. She was the only person who was polite to him, they conceded, but not because she had any feeling for him. It was only that she hated to be unkind. They praised their fallen friend, her sweetness, and her generosity.

Unsurprisingly, no one had a good word to say for Millard. There was little animosity toward his family though. The Lees had several sons who were well-respected members of the community. Millard was just a bad seed. No one thought highly of him. “He had no purpose in life, no aims, and no ambition,” the local papers claimed. But Millard wasn’t considered to be wicked either. He worked hard on his father’s farm and had a very meek appearance.

Reporters visited Mrs. John Lee, Millard’s mother. Millard was a good boy, Mrs. Lee insisted. “I do not know what made him do it, but I can’t think that he was wholly to blame,” she told a reporter. “The girl egged him on. She never treated him right in his mind was all torn up about it.”

The reporter asked if Millard thought Lila loved him.

“He never thought that she loved him, but he has loved her for a long time,” Mrs. Lee replied. “She never treated him right and as she had other company. Millard could not bear the thought of her treating anyone else better than she did him.”

Millard’s mother, Mrs. Lee

The reporter wanted to know what Millard told his family after he committed the murder. “Yesterday when he was here, he told us: ‘I just decided I couldn’t live without her and I couldn’t bear for her to love anyone else, so I shot her!’” She returned to the part of the case that was most important to her: Miss Suttles did not treat her boy right and it made him jealous for her to receive other young men.

One week exactly after the murder, Miss Suttles was laid to rest at Mt. Gilead cemetery. The eulogy was done by Reverend Simmons. “I shall not tell these sorrowing parents that their God caused any such deed. It was spawned in hell and born of the devil. God allowed It because He has left the will of mankind free, but the deed is as abhorrent to Him as it is to you or to me.” Catching his breath, he added: “He has said that all things work together for good to them who love Him, and since He has said so, I believe that He will bring good out of this deed, but just as sure will He demand just retribution.”

Miss Suttles’ funeral

dim pictures of the Lee and Suttles homes

When the sun set that evening, the friends and family of Miss Suttles began to feel hopeless. Would her killer ever be found?

Go to Part 4.

One thought on “The Deadly Love of Millard Lee, Part 3

  1. Pingback: The Deadly Love of Millard Lee, Part 2 | old spirituals

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