The legacy of Murder on Staunton Road

Charlie Ryan & Mitch Evans

“Murder On Staunton Road is an exciting read about the heinous murder of the owner of The Charleston Daily Mail—an unsolved case of more than 60 years—and the possible cover-up by authorities.”

Lives Intertwined

Murder, crime, fear, and dysfunction cascade through West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley in the decade of the 1950s. Charleston watches in fascination as members of the capital city’s elite social set find love and retribution in the most improbable scenarios. Bootleg liquor flows through the back end of town; prostitutes beckon from second-story windows. Illegal betting enriches a known number king,

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This new information is as fascinating as the book. Keep digging! Carter Taylor Seaton Let’s see what else turns up! —Richard Norcross Charlie you and Mitch make true journalists everywhere proud. The Flying A (the late WVU Journalism professor Paul Atkins) is smiling down on you. —Tony Hylton I still believe there is more to the story with Copenhaver taking

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Dayton Carpenter
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"I received Murder On Staunton Road as a gift at Christmas. What a great read! I know a lot of these people very well. Kudos for a very thorough compilation of available documents and the compelling narrative. I am about 70% complete and I can’t put it down. I will finish the book this week."
John Hash
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“Just finished reading ‘Murder On Staunton Road’. Terrific book. Obviously a lot of research went into the effort. I grew up in Charleston and knew many of the people mentioned in the book. As I read the book, thoughts of that time come back to me. After I finished the book, I did a bit of research to retrieve some information that interested me. I have a theory about the murder that was not mentioned in the book or anywhere in the newspapers, either.”
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“Murder on Staunton Road provides a glimpse of Charleston at a time of its greatest development but also shows the violent underbelly that all cities, to varying degrees, experience. Charlie Ryan and Mitch Evans should be congratulated for a job well done."
Jay Goldman
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"A great book with one unanswered question. Who? Having known most of the people except the victim the book puts you in the story. The suspect has several names. You won't put this book down."
Sallie Hart
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“I just finished it and it was, simply stated, 'One fabulous read!' I’m thinking, 'Great for Christmas presents!' Still cannot believe the data you collected and the time spent. I’ll re-read it before the holidays!"
Sharon King
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“I finished it. Left with very strong conclusions. A wonderful portrait of a larger city. I loved the newspaper clippings as they were written in a fashion that we will never see again.”
Jack Canfield
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"What a research job. True, creative page-turner -- no sensationalism, just riveting stories and personalities. Newspaper publisher and reporters, coal barons, mayors, civil leaders, widows, in-laws, police chiefs and investigators, etc. Reminds me of "Where the Crawdad Sings." Amazing how many people in the book we know/have known This story could happen in any mid-sized city in America, but it happened in ours."
Bob Bragg
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"GREAT READ!  A great book about a terrible point of history of Charleston, WV. How local politics may have played a large part in solving the case of the murder of Juliet Staunton Clark. The authors go deep into the history of the affected families and the two newspapers involved to search for a murderer almost 70 years after it occurred."


Meet the Authors

Charlie Ryan


Charlie Ryan’s writing career began in 1962 and spanned eighteen years of reporting in radio, television, wire service, and newspaper venues. His focus on politics brought him into contact with prominent names of the sixties and seventies where he interviewed such notables as Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, John Connally, George Wallace, and Jimmy Hoffa. Charlie was voted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame. 

In 1974 Charlie founded Charles Ryan Associates, an integrated marketing firm with services of public relations, advertising and social media, in West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C. His advertising and public relations career spanned 33 years and created four business entities. He sold those firms in 2007 and became the Founding Dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Charleston. He retired from the University in 2009 and returned to his writing career.

His books include Dead Men’s ClubsA Story of Golf, Death and Redemption, the fictional account of a high handicap golfer from Hilton Head Island who suddenly begins to play like a champ when he buys used golf clubs; The Pullman HiltonA Christmas Mystery for young adults; My Life with Charles Fraser, a history of the men and women who worked with Charles Fraser as he dreamed of and developed Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Deceit, Disappearance & Death— written with co-author Pamela Martin Ovens—the story of the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Hilton Head entrepreneurs John and Elizabeth Calvert and the death of their accountant, Dennis Gerwing; and Alacrity, a memoir—75 years of recollections that recount Charlie’s early years, broadcast career, agency ownership, academic role, and writing career.

Charlie is a native of Keyser, West Virginia and a graduate of Potomac State College and West Virginia University. He and his wife Becky live in South Carolina—they have three daughters, four grandchildren and one completely spoiled Maltese.

Mitch Evans


Charles M. “Mitch” Evans, CFP®, CFS®, CRPC® is a native of Clarksburg, West Virginia. He is a 1979 graduate of Clarksburg Washington Irving High School, and a 1983 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan (BA, Sociology) where he studied Sociology, Psychology, Criminology, Religion, and Business Administration.

While always maintaining a keen eye toward the study of history and criminology, he followed his entrepreneurial and pastoral instincts and began his career in 1983 as a third generation financial planner practitioner in Charleston, WV (Certified Financial PlannerTM 11/22/1993) with IDS Financial Services Inc. and it successors (American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and Ameriprise Financial, Inc.) where he celebrated his 35th anniversary on October 12, 2018.

Mitch is one of six members of his family to serve in a financial planner capacity which accounts for over 192 years in collective experience.

Mitch splits time between his beloved West Virginia and his home on Hilton Head Island.

In Murder on Staunton Road, Mitch returns to his interest in History, Sociology, and Criminology. A review of the information surrounding the sale of The Charleston Daily Mail’s web domain name to the Daily Mail (UK) drew him into further study of the history of The Charleston Daily Mail, thus his engagement in this project.

Whether in West Virginia or on Hilton Head Island, you will find Mitch with his wife, Ann, as well as their two “West Virginia Brown Dogs” – “Sasha” and “Winston”.


Murder On Staunton Road is a fast paced narrative of a sensational unsolved homicide that captured the attention of the nation in 1953.

On the night of August 21, in the haute monde neighborhood of South Hills in Charleston, West Virginia, Juliet Staunton Clark was savagely beaten to death. She was the owner of The Charleston Daily Mail, the capital city’s prosperous afternoon newspaper. Her murder set off a flurry of investigation under the direct supervision of Charleston’s flamboyant Mayor “Jumpin” John Copenhaver.

Accusations flew as the investigation swept through the city. Many charged then, and some repeat the charge today, that there was manipulation to protect prominent Charlestonians who were being questioned as possible persons of interest in the Clark murder. The Charleston Daily Mail, The Charleston Gazette, and newspapers throughout the country reported every detail of the fascinating story of the brutal beating of the esteemed socialite. Nationally prominent investigators traveled to the “Rose City” to apply the newest forensic physiological test to probe criminal suspectsthe polygraph machine, known as the “Lie Detector”.

The tale of sadistic murder follows the pioneer Staunton family roots from Nottingham, England to the banks of the Kanawha River in southern West Virginia. There, family members recall that fateful night of August 21, 1953, when a wave of blood flowed freely across a green carpet rug in a living room on Staunton Road.

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