Infamous 1948 ‘Murder House’ Auctioned Off in Bowling Green, Kentucky
This gorgeous historic home that was auctioned off this past week for over a million dollars, sits on almost two acres in the middle of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Fairview Ave also known as Cemetery Rd. is lined with mostly smaller houses except for the stately 5,100 sq ft 'mansion' set back, surrounded by trees and steeped in mystery. It has had quite a few caretakers over the years, but its early history is as gruesome as it gets.
Bowling Green natives all know the tragic story of this legendary home that was built by James Finis Ewing in 1856. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, "the large Colonial style home's second owners were Dr. Charles B. Martin and his wife Martha. The Martins purchased the mansion in 1918 and added the Greek columns to the front of the home." They were also the unfortunate victims that gave the residence the moniker "Murder House."
Norm and Jimmie Lou Johnson are the current owners who put the home up for auction.
They purchased it in 2001 at a previous auction that was described as a circus of people swarming to get a peek of the inside of the house.
To see it now, you would never know the horrible things that happened there.
The Legend of the Bowling Green Murder House
Just a warning, this is not easy to read...
The tale goes that a young Harry Edward Kilgore was a physics major at Western University when he fell in love with Ruth Ann McKinney. However, his love was not reciprocated. McKinney met Stonewall Martin, a much older bachelor, and they were soon married.
About a week after the wedding, in a seemingly jealous rage, Kilgore drove very early in the morning to the home of Stonewall Martin's parents, Dr. Charles B. and Martha Martin. . By 1948, they were in their 80s and Dr. Martin was retired. It was determined that he broke the lock on the front door of the house and entered to find Dr. Martin standing in the hallway. Kilgore fired and chased the doctor to the bedroom where Martha was in bed.
That is where the fatal shots occurred and they were both murdered. There was also evidence of trauma which Kilgore claims was due to attacking the couple with a flashlight. When Kilgore escaped the scene, he later told police he disposed of his .32 caliber pistol by throwing it into the Barren River as he left the city.
The Martins were discovered that same morning by some men who came to the house to perform some repairs to the house. Apparently, it did not take long before the police had their suspect. It was known around town that Harry Kilgore was distraught over his unrequited love. After finding the .32 caliber casings, he was taken into custody where he confessed to the murders.
Kilgore claimed to have had an accomplice, music professor, and head of the piano department at Western, George Melvin Daggit. However, there was not enough evidence to prove anyone else was responsible. Kilgore was given two life sentences but was eventually paroled. Here is a snippet from the Courier-Journal dated June 25th, 1965.
BOWLING GREEN KILLER, HARRY KILGORE, PAROLED
Frankfort, Ky - Harry Edward Kilgore, who was serving two life sentences for the sensational 1948 slaying of an elderly Bowling Green couple, has been paroled to Florida.
Kilgore, 42, was released from the State Reformatory near LaGrange on June 7 after serving 15 1/2 years for the murder of Dr and Mrs C B Martin. A condition of his parole is that he stay out of Warren and adjoining counties. Kilgore is living with a relative in Florida where he has a job as a television repairman.
Kilgore's parole had been deferred eight times by the state Parole Board before it was approved last March, chairman Walter Ferguson said. Kilgore had "an exceptionally good" record at the reformatory where he taught television and radio repair. Prison officials and psychiatrists recommended the parole.
There are some theories that Kilgore's love, Ruth, was involved in a conspiracy with him to rob the Martins but that was never proven. I found this interesting video which goes into more detail about the case.
If you want to learn more, The Historic RailPark & Train Museum and L&N Depot host UnSeen Bowling Green Walking History Tours where you can view the exterior of the home and hear from Wes Swietek, managing editor of the Bowling Green Daily News and author of the book The Cemetery Road Murders.
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Gallery Credit: Stacker