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Former Parkersburg mayor writes book

Bob Newell signs his book, “Violence in the Valley,” a book about violent crime in Parkersburg. He is also a former police chief. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A former mayor and police chief of Parkersburg has written a book, “Violence in the Valley.”

“Violence in the Valley” is Bob Newell’s first book, although Newell has also published a field manual for police officers about dealing with the mentally ill, “Recognizing & Managing the Mentally Ill for Police Professionals.”

Recently released, “Violence in the Valley” is Newell’s perspective on criminal events and investigations, several of which he was a participant as a police officer. The first chapter is how the Parkersburg Police Department’s young detective bureau in April 1956 cracked a ring of thieves. A member turned snitch and tipped police off about how the gang planned to break into the Nickle’s Bakery at 36th and Elm streets.

Detectives hid in bakery trucks until the gang arrived. The officers identified themselves, upon which a shootout began and two of the crooks were killed. A third was wounded and ran away, but was caught after he attempted to flag down a taxi which actually was a police car.

The book includes numerous cases, including the BBF robbery and murder, the murder of the Bailey family, the abduction and murder of Jima Ann Dotson, the disappearance of Marjorie Richards and the decapitation murder of Charles Marsh.

Newell also writes about organized crime, about brothels and gambling joints, a raid at the Elks Club and the shooting of a local bookie.

“Throughout the 1950s and into the 1980s, gambling joints were operated by local families known throughout the community. They attended church, their children attended local schools and they gave to local charities,” a passage in the book said. “Some bought much needed items for juveniles who were held in the local detention center.

“In some cases, if someone lost their paycheck to gambling and their wife complained to the bookie, the money was returned, and the customer would be banned from all the joints,” the book said. “The damage to families was much better controlled than compared to the state managed gambling machine today.”

Newell said he retained copies of some old case files, but most of the book was written from his memory, old articles and information from former Police Chief Larry Gibson and former detectives Jerry Lyons and Steve Bodge.

“In this current book, most of the cases have an unusual twist to them and are cases many people will readily recognize. They are also the ones I remember the best,” Newell said. “The detective bureau investigated dozens of murders and other violent crimes throughout the years that have been forgotten so I touched on many of them as well as I highlighted the different decades.”

“Violence in the Valley” is available on Amazon for $14.99. It also is available as eBook for Kindle and at the libraries in Parkersburg.

“The one thing I hope people who read the book is that Parkersburg has really become less violent since the 1970s in terms of robberies, murders, shootings and stabbings, although sometimes it doesn’t seem like it,” he said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com

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