Old Main Burning: A Tale of Love and Murder in Mississippi by Joe Woods

  On January 22, 1959, Old Main Dormitory at Mississippi State University was home to 1,100 college students. But early on Friday morning, January 23rd, the students were homeless. Old Main was ablaze and the ruins of the largest student housing facility in the United States would later produce the charred body of one of its own.

Extremely cold weather, final exams, and students gone home for semester break contributed to the very difficult task and seemingly endless confusion of trying to confirm that all residents of Old Main had escaped the devastating blaze.

After three days of investigation, evidence pointed to the strong possibility that the fire had been deliberately set. Searchers found a human skull in the smoldering rubble. The crushed skull was not the result of the fire, a fall or failed escape. It appeared to be murder. Had the fire been deliberately set to cover up a murder?

How in the world does college life lead to murder and arson? The investigation leads to the upscale social circles of the Deep South, influenced by big city visitors and money. Beneath the surface of this seemingly slow-paced, innocent college life lies the true story of Old Main Burning.

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