Author Stokes McMillan will appear in Starkville at the Book Mart and Cafe on Thursday to discuss and sign his recently published book, “One Night of Madness.”
“One Night of Madness” chronicles the true story of a horrible crime that occurred in Attala County, Mississippi in 1950. A white ex-convict broke into the shack of a family of poor black sharecroppers and murdered three children, ages 4, 8, and 12. The children’s father was mortally wounded. Their mother escaped into the night carrying her baby son.
The murderer and his two accomplices, brothers from Alabama, tried to escape into the Delta. But Mississippians, angered by the slaughter of children, assembled the state’s largest manhunt and gave chase.
The killers were soon captured by a Parchman Penitentiary trusty and his bloodhounds after a blazing shootout.
Judge J. P. Coleman of Ackerman presided over the trials. His fairly-run court resulted in a satisfying case of justice served. The resulting positive publicity catapulted Judge Coleman into the Governor’s office six years later.
Presently a NASA engineer living in Houston, Texas, Stokes McMillan was born and raised in Kosciusko, Mississippi, only a few miles from the murder scene. In 1950, his father was a photographer for the Kosciusko Star-Herald.
He accompanied the posse and took a dramatic photo of the killer’s capture. Months later, the photo was selected by the National Press Photographer’s Association as Best Photo of 1950, beating out more than 600 entries from around the nation.
McMillan put his father’s prize-winning photo on the cover of his book.
“One Night of Madness” was recently honored with a gold medal for Best Southern Nonfiction of 2010 by the Independent Publishers Book Award.
The award, known as the “IPPY,” was presented to finalists in 87 categories among the 3890 entries received in this year’s book contest. Winners came from 42 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, 7 Canadian provinces, and 6 countries overseas.
It was also nominated for best nonfiction of 2009 by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters as well as the Mississippi Library Association.
Stokes McMillan will be at the Book Mart and Cafe from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday.