In Columbia, South Carolina, on March 8, 1940, May Walker Burleson fired a pistol into the back of her ex-husband’s second wife who was eating her lunch in the cafeteria of the Jefferson Hotel. The shot was fatal, and Mrs. Burleson was arrested and put on trial in the District Court in Columbia. She was convicted of manslaughter and served eight years of her twelve-year sentence. Upon her release in October 1948, she wore a “Thurmond for President” button as she went directly to the airport for a flight to her home state of Texas.
In The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage and Carolina Murder Scandal, just published by the History Press, author T. Felder Dorn relates the story of Mrs. Burleson’s life, from her marriage, to her activity as a socialite and prominent woman suffrage advocate, to her bitter divorce, to her crime and its consequences in Columbia.
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