The book, A Murder In Paradise, tells quite a story. Sadly, it doesn't tell a true story. Readers in general place a total trust in an author when they devote their time to immersing themselves in a book. I am a fairly tough reader. I lose confidence in material even at the slightest misspelling. I suppose that is the result of my upbringing, my education and the era in which I was raised. To this day I am offended and none to happy when I see misspellings on a crawl on the bottom of the daily news. Holding the passing on of information is a serious task to me. Unless you are genuine in your facts, even down to minutiae, you are simply sharing fiction. The book I referenced above was in good part, misinformation and fiction.
Yes, there are inclusions from the trial. There are paragraphs that expound on some personal contact or brief interview with people who knew Edward Lester Gibbs and others related to him. But it is of incredible importance that no one in Marian Louise Baker's family was interviewed by Richard Gehman, the author. Much was said about her in generality in the book. Much innuendo was printed. But not one person who knew Marian best was given the opportunity to tell the readers about her.
In most cases, books are written to make money. In rare cases, like mine, the task of writing a book that is nonfiction is a purpose to set the record straight, or explain things relating to an event that either have never been revealed before or to tell the whole and complete version of events. In my case, it is also to tell Marian's story, to tell her truth.
Other than gruesome trial testimony and interpretation, the previous story was all about Edward Lester Gibbs. The crime was grisly and horrendous. It shattered the somewhat "Camelot" delusion most held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at that time in history. Books about grisly crimes and sexual innuendo sell. They make money for the writer and the publishing house. Books about innocent little girls picking huckleberries on the family homestead sell, but much less when placed in the story continuum of a brutal murder.
Marian's story cannot be told without at least a chapter given over to Ed Gibbs and his pathos, his actions and his crime. But the story of Marian Baker was never told. She was bludgeoned by Ed Gibbs on a "dull day" in January of 1950. Afterwards, rumor and supposition took the place of her truth. That stops now.
I couldn't care less if I don't make a penny on Marian's story. It's not about that. It is about someone finally standing publicly to set the record straight. Each human being brings gifts to this world in what could be seen as the smallest of ways. Many of us have had the blessing of a bad day being turned around because of the smile of a stranger, because of the kindness of another human being who crossed our path. The person who offers kindness to others, makes someone's day is a gift not less than the person who settles a world crisis or cures a disease. Many people may benefit from gargantuan feats, but to the person who is having a bad moment benefits from the Marian Baker's in the world just as heavily. It matters to that one person.
I am happy often to recall the story of a person seen throwing a fish back into the water on a beach where hundreds have fish have washed up, flailing in the sand. An onlooker says to the person holding a fish, "Why bother? You can't save em all..." The response resonates with me to this day. "It matters to this one."
Marian's story has to include the3 events of January 1950. It is where her earthly life ended. Her life and story before that have never been unimportant. And although she is no longer walking this earth, she goes on. For no matter the difficult life she was handed even as a young girl, she was blessed with a family that, to this very day, think of her, miss her and carry on her memory. It has struck me deeply that even though the family was fractured and even geographically separated in the early years, the ties and bonds that refused to give way to the circumstances were stronger than anyone can imagine. The utter pain and anguish of not only her horrific death but the resulting attempts to tarnish her reputation would have made many families shove the story and the life experience far down in the file cabinet. One of those things not spoken of.
It has been devastating to lose Marian in the way she was lost. That was compounded by the salacious treatment of her character after her death. It was not deserved then and it is not deserved to this day.
So, this retelling of events will not be a repeat of the degradation of Marian Louise Baker's existence. Rather it will tell the truth. It will set the record straight. To many it will not matter. Many will wonder, "Why bother?" My answer is simple. It matters to Marian. And it matters to those who loved her and think of her today. And to those who wish to grasp tightly to the rumors, I hate to break it to you. This will not be a current version of a True Confessions tabloid. Marian loved reading "True" magazines. Simply because it was so far removed from her real life and her real makeup.
Marian Baker said no to Ed Gibbs. It is a matter of fact that bad things happened when people said no to Ed Gibbs.