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Local cold case inspires new book

On a rainy day in May 1967, a young woman went missing in Decatur, to never be seen alive again. From that event sprang a case of mystery and rumors that have led two local people to explore the 52-year-old cold case in a new book. 

Glenda Yarbrough and Brad Golson have known each other since fall 2018, when they teamed up to explore the life of Mary Faye Hunter and her untimely death in their book, “What Happened to Mary Faye Hunter?” 

Having several other novels under her belt, Yarbrough is no stranger to the writing process, and she actually has another book inspired by the same case. She said she and Golson first connected through social media and decided to compare notes that eventually led to them writing the book. 

“I have always heard about this. I was a teenager when this took place, and it was just one of those cases that lingers with you,” Yarbrough said. “It just stands out, like ‘Look at me,’” Yarbrough said. 

Golson also grew up hearing about the Hunter case, since he is a distant relative. He also had an interest in her case and two similar cases in Decatur. He eventually connected with one of the investigators who had been involved with the case and created a Facebook page to try to connect with others living during the time when it happened. “What I did was, I posted all these old articles I found in archives and online that would start stirring up old emotions and memories. That’s exactly what happened,” Golson said. “People started commenting and messaging, so I just went from there. Sometimes the information was good leads that led me in the right direction, and one in particular, toward the end, was what brought everything together.”

After deciding to write a book based on the case, Golson and Yarbrough spent many hours meeting at a local restaurant, sharing stories and notes. Yarbrough took much of the research Golson had done and imagined a character based on Hunter. She said she hoped the book would help make Hunter more human. 

“The one thing the rumors led to was that Mary Faye had become a rumor instead of a real person,” Yarbrough said. “When they close out this book, they will have actually been able to see that Mary Faye, whether she made good choices or bad choices, was a real person that was dealing with real emotions.”

With that goal in mind, Yarbrough began writing the book – she and Golson exchanging ideas back and forth during the process. Golson edited the book, and they decided to have it published. The entire process took just less than a year from when they first connected. 

Golson said holding a copy of the book almost felt surreal. “Once I had it in my hands, I felt something like it was a lot bigger than I was imagining,” he said. “Just to have it in my hands and to have all that work compressed into this book – it just looked so much more authentic than it had on Microsoft word.” 

Yarbrough said it was a bittersweet feeling, seeing the book come to an end. After working on it for so long and spending so much time to develop Hunter into a real person, she said it almost felt sad to see their time come to a close. “I get to looking at her picture, and as I was working on this book, it was like I got to know her through the character I was building,” Yarbrough said. “If you read this book, you should feel like you know her, too.” 

Although names are changed in the book for the protection of the people who might be involved, Golson said he feels they have figured out what happened to Hunter based on the evidence available to them. 

“So many people have lived decade after decade not knowing what happened to Mary Faye. A lot of people knew her, were friends with her or were related to her that want to know,” Golson said. “Then there were the people that had to live all these years not knowing if their neighbor was the one that killed her.” 

Yarbrough said she hopes to leave the reader feeling as though they have their questions answered and that they know a little more about Hunter. 

“When the reader finishes the book, they feel like their questions have been answered, but they also realize that it’s deeper than all the rumors that floated around about Mary Faye,” Yarbrough said. “You had some people that viewed Mary Faye up on a pedestal and that she was horribly murdered. You had another group of people that was saying Mary Faye fell off the pedestal. We have made Mary Faye human.” 


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