“Murder in Roanoke County” To Be Presented By Author

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The Vinton Historical Society invites everyone to attend a presentation by author John D. Long on Saturday, February 1, 11 a.m., at the Vinton History Museum. John will present and discuss his new book, “Roanoke County: Race and Justice in the 1891 Susan Watkins Case.”  The crime occurred in west Roanoke County and the entire jury pool for the trial came from Vinton.

The publisher states, “A drama played out in the mountains of southwestern Virginia in 1891 that attracted nationwide attention and held the citizens of the Roanoke Valley spellbound. It was a story of violence, bigamy, race and a quest for justice. The tale of the trial of Charles Watkins for the murder of his wife was marked by threats of lynching, a fugitive manhunt, a disappearing witness, mistaken identities, claims of insanity and finally a secret letter to break the case wide open. In its day, the story was as closely followed as a modern televised murder trial. Despite the rapt attention of the public then, it has entirely faded from the history books—until now. Historian John Long resurrects the truth of who killed Susan Watkins. Did her rival for a man’s love get away with murder?”

John D. Long is the director of education at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. He holds degrees from Roanoke College and the University of Virginia and has taught history at Roanoke College, Radford University and Virginia Western Community College. A contributing columnist for the Roanoke Times, he has also written extensively on local history and the Second World War.

The Vinton History Museum is located at 210 E. Jackson Ave.  The museum is open from 10 am to 2 pm the first Saturday of each month and weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  Admission is free.  For more information call the museum at (540)342-8634 or email at [email protected]