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‘Moonlight Mill Murders’ focus of Guy’s latest book

BOOK SIGNING TODAY AND TUESDAY — Susan M. Guy holds a copy of her newly released book, “The Moonlight Mill Murders of Steubenville, Ohio.” She will be at a book signing today and Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. at BookMarx Bookstore, 181 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, where it will be available for purchase. -- Contributed

WINTERSVILLE — Her second book seemed a natural next step.

Local resident Susan M. Guy’s release in recent days of “The Moonlight Mill Murders of Steubenville, Ohio” follows her debut offering in 2014 — “Mobsters, Madams & Murder in Steubenville, Ohio: The Story of Little Chicago, “ both of which are published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press.

After all, she is a history buff who relishes true crime stories.

Guy will be signing copies of her new book today and Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. at BookMarx Bookstore, 181 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, where it will be available for purchase. Social distancing will be observed, and face masks are required.

It was during book signings for her first work that Guy was encouraged to write about “the Phantom Killer” of the early 1930s at Steubenville’s Wheeling Steel plant — suggestions she ultimately heeded, although it took six years.

The book came out July 27, its back cover reading: “Prohibition ended on Dec. 5, 1933, and Steubenville hoped that its reputation as ‘Little Chicago’ would end with it. That hope was short-lived when, eight weeks later, the Phantom Killer made his midnight debut. Under the glow of a full moon, in the mill yards of Steubenville’s Wheeling Steel Plant, the killer ambushed a rail worker, shooting him five times. The Steubenville Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Wheeling Steel Mill Police joined forces in the New Year to find the Phantom before he took another victim. The strongest of millworkers on the midnight shift began to arm themselves, wondering who would be next. As the investigation wore on, Steubenville was once again thrust into the national spotlight as the Phantom’s reign of terror continued. Local historian Susan M. Guy delves into one of the city’s most infamous crimes.”

Guy was born in Steubenville and has lived in Jefferson County for most of her life.

“Being the daughter of a Wintersville police captain, I followed in my father’s footsteps and became a police officer for Cross Creek Township, eventually attaining the rank of sergeant,” explained Guy, whose father was the late Capt. Robert “Red” Nottingham, who retired from the Wintersville Police Department in 1998.

“I was there for 15 years,” continued Guy, a corrections officer for the state of Ohio who has been at that job for the last 26 years.

Guy has always enjoyed writing.

“I began writing short stories and poems in high school,” she explained. “My mother and I would often put our poems in the Herald-Star, when they used to run a column for local poets during the 1980s. About 12 years ago, a friend of mine asked me to take a writing class with her at Eastern Gateway Community College. It was a six-week course,” she added. “The class was great, and new friends came out of it, including a friendship with the instructor and local author Karina Garrison. Out of that class, the Tri-State Writers Society was born.

“Karina had given me an assignment for the group to write about prostitution and Water Street. She knew I liked writing about true crime. After researching for that assignment, I had come up with many brutal crimes from Steubenville’s past. Many of the crimes had gone unsolved. Through all of that research that is how my first book, ‘Mobsters, Madams & Murder’ was born,” she noted.

Its back cover reads: “Gambling, prostitution and bootlegging have been going on in Steubenville for well over a century. In its heyday, the city’s Water Street red-light district drew men from hundreds of miles away, as well as underage runaways. The white slave trade was rampant, and along with all the vice crimes, murders became a weekly occurrence. This revealing history chronicles the rise of Steubenville’s prodigious underworld from the 1890s to the modern day.

“By the turn of the century, Steubenville’s law enforcement seemed to turn a blind eye, and cries of political corruption were heard in the state capital. This scenario replayed itself over and over again during the past century as mobsters and madams ruled and murders plagued the city and surrounding county at an alarming rate. Newspapers nationwide would come to nickname this mecca of murder ‘Little Chicago.'”

Guy said she across the story of the Phantom Killer at the mill while working on the first book.

“I used to discuss many of my findings with my mom and stepfather,” she noted. “My stepfather told me that his dad was a boss at the mill during that time, though he couldn’t tell me much more than that. When I would do book signings for my ‘Mobsters, Madams & Murder’ book, a few of the people who had attended the signings had talked to me about the mill murders. They wanted me to write about it so, I knew there was a local interest in the story.”

It took a while to write the second book, according to Guy.

“Six years had gone by since the first book came out, and I knew I had to get this book out of my head and onto paper. I planned a four-day getaway to the Oak Ridge Inn in Walnut Creek, where I barricaded myself in a room with a view,” she explained. “I took all of my research material with me that I had collected over the years, along with a big bulletin board, loaded with index cards containing my cast of characters and their pertinent information. As soon as I opened up my laptop, I began to write. The story began to flow onto the computer screen. After I came home, I spent the next few weeks completing the book,” she continued.

“My son, David, who own a computer repair business, Trusty Techs in Shallotte, N.C., is working on the website for the book. He also designed the website for the ‘Mobsters’ book,” she noted. “Jimmy Bee, owner of Beez Custom Paints in Wintersville, did some of the artwork for the book, including the back cover and three or four pictures throughout the book.”

The latest book is available locally, on the Internet and through Arcadia Publishing/History Press.

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