Murder at the Beauty Pageant

by Patricia Bradley


Graphic from Printmaster

On the night of March 26, 1965, the auditorium was jammed with more than 1,200 people attending the semifinal competitions of a beauty pageant. Since 1947, this had been one of the city’s biggest social events. The winner went on to the state finals and from there to the Miss America Pageant, and that Friday evening the panel of celebrity judges included Linda Mead Shea, the 1960 Miss America.

One of those among the crowd was a 29-year-old mother who had brought her three young children along to see the show. She had a special reason for getting the kids involved. Her husband, Joe, had volunteered to serve as chairman of the annual pageant.

Despite all the excitement, the kids grew restless, so the mother left the auditorium during the 9:30 p.m. intermission. Her home was just five minutes away. She drove there, tucked the children into bed, and told the babysitter that she was returning to the school for the second half of the pageant. She would be back around midnight, she said.

No one except her killer ever saw her alive again.

The husband told police later that he wasn’t too concerned when his wife didn’t show up at the school after intermission. He knew she was tired and figured she had decided to stay home with the children.  He also told police when the pageant ended shortly after 11 p.m., he had coffee with friends, then drove home in a Buick convertible loaned to him by the pageant.

She was found the next morning in the parking lot where the pageant had been held, shot three times in the back. The medical examiner estimated the time of death between 10 and 11 p.m. meaning the killing occurred while the pageant was taking place just a few hundred yards away.

What do you believe happened?

1. The husband killed her for insurance money.

2. She’d been having an affair and she and her paramour had a fight and he killed her.

3. She was mugged and fought back and the mugger accidently killed her.

4. She was killed by the same person who had murdered a woman only a month earlier, possibly a serial killer.

5. It hasn’t been solved, and police are still looking for the murderer.

Leave a comment and let me know which one you think it is. I’ll post the answer Friday.


About P. T. Bradley

Writer of Inspirational romantic suspense

23 thoughts on “Murder at the Beauty Pageant

  1. Janet B says:

    I’m guessing # 2.

  2. dtopliff says:

    This is chilling (& great graphic). I think it’s 4.

  3. M. Weidenbenner says:

    How fun! I love this, Pat. Since she was shot in the back I have more questions, of course. Could it have been someone in the back seat? Did the bullets go through the backseat first before hitting her? If so, someone could have been hiding in the backseat. If not, then she had to be shot outside of the car and moved to the car after she was shot. I suspect the husband.

  4. Good questions Michelle!

  5. hilzonsix says:

    No. 4. Serial killer.

  6. joaniebruce says:

    Number 4: It hasn’t been solved, and the police are still looking for the murderer.

  7. joaniebruce says:

    Oopps. I’m sorry…..I guess I should have said number 5. On my email, there were two 4’s. Sorry!

  8. Liz Johnson says:

    Great post today, Pat! I’m going to guess #2.

  9. None of the above. 🙂 It was Linda Mead Shea, who is in love with Joe and hates his wife who is having an affair with the stage manager. Linda went outside to confront her, only to find she has run into a mugger fighting with Joe’s wife, who know Kung Fu. She kicks the gun out of the mugger’s hand and he takes off. Linda picks up the gun, which happens to have a silencer on it. She thinks Ah ha! and pulls the trigger before the wife turns around. It helps that Joe has a 5 million dollar life insurance policy. The police think it could be a serial killer and they are still hunting for the killer. Linda and Joe move to the Bahamas. 🙂

  10. Mary Russell says:

    I think #1. If Joe hung around for coffee with friends after the pageant, why did he not notice his wife’s car in the empty parking lot, or why didn’t he notice his wife’s absence from their home.

  11. Ellen Turnipseed says:

    Killed by a serial killer!

  12. Michelle Lim says:

    Ooooh! I love this one, Pat. Hmm…I’m going to guess it is still unsolved. Great sleuth challenge.

  13. Thanks Michelle. Not sure who is posting Friday, but do you think I can put the answer and link at the top of the post?

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