Historic unsolved murder case to be solved at the next Museum Talk?

Published 10:54 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

Alan Leonard, speaker at the Tryon Historical Museum located at 26 Maple Street in Tryon, will tell a tale of romance, jealousy, passion and rivalry that resulted in murder on Main Street. His talk on September 18 at 5:30 p.m. should be more exciting than Cold Case Squad, especially if he can identify Edward Ball’s murderer.

The basic facts are these: On a quiet Sunday morning in late spring of 1953, Ball, the 30-year-old manager of the Tryon Theater, was gunned down in cold blood in the foyer of his workplace as he prepared for the afternoon matinee. The first-degree murder took place within half block of the town’s police station [then located on the corner opposite Morris the Horse]. 

The murder, never solved and still unpunished, lives on in the recollection of old-time Tryonites who have discussed the case through the years, but in hushed tone, Leonard said. Was justice denied to the victim because of a small-town conspiracy of silence, enforced by a local “good old boy system”? 

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Leonard, a life-long resident of Tryon, said he’s “been wondering about [the unsolved murder] since I was about five years old.”

Perhaps this intriguing case led Leonard to pursue a law degree at UNC Chapel Hill, where he also earned his undergraduate degree. It seems more than a coincidence that Leonard’s legal specialty was homicide, as career prosecutor for 30 years in the courtrooms of 12 Western North Carolina counties.

Leonard declared his upcoming lecture “will be my last murder case.”

Drawing on skills from his D.A. days for his upcoming lecture, Leonard will review the back story of the 66-year-old unsolved murder case and to reexamine the publicly known facts as reported in newspapers.

Leonard has requested case files from the NC. Bureau of Information in an effort to finally set the unsolved case to rest.

During Leonard’s career with the NC courts he also served in the North Carolina Air National Guard, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel, Air Force with 5,000 hours of flying time, which included combat sorties in the Balkans and Persian Gulf.

All programs at the Tryon Historical Museum are free and open to the public. 

Submitted by Jackie Burke