“It was a wild, creepy night to begin with — with thunder and lightning and an almost warm wind, even in mid-December — the sort of night when almost anything could happen. But I’m still asking myself: why did it have to happen to me?”
Thus began the story told by Bobby Woodard in an interview to the Franklin Review-Appeal on Jan. 17, 1950, barely a month after he helped Betty Burges and her son, Sherman, dump the bloody body of Rosa Mary Dean by the incinerator behind the Franklin High School gym off what is now West Fowlkes Street.
Recently, the Neighbors podcast on Nashville Public Radio did an episode on Dean’s murder and the effort by a local author to give her unmarked grave in Franklin’s Mt. Hope Cemetery a headstone.
Part of the inspiration for the podcast was Trey Holt, who is interviewed in depth on the topic. Holt, a Franklin therapist and author, wrote a book called “Bottomland,” that was inspired by the story of Dean’s murder.
This Saturday, Holt will hold a book-signing at Parnassus Books, 3900 Hillsboro Pike in Nashville, at 2 p.m.
He will also discuss the book and the story behind it.
“‘Bottomland’ explores the social mores of the town itself and the personalities of all involved, from the townspeople to the police to the killers,” said Holt.
The book is told from the point of view of a 17-year-old high school senior who has just fallen in love for the first time, and unfolds over the four-day period during which the body and the perpetrators remained unidentified.