Around Town: New podcast series explores brutal Madison County murder

TRUE CRIME: Tina Miles, left, and Chris Cook will explore an infamous Madison County murder in a new podcast series. Photos courtesy of Miles, Cook

Tina Miles, who was adopted as an infant and raised in the Chicago area, discovered her birth family in Madison County in 2015 after more than three decades of searching.

“In the last few years, I have assisted hundreds of individuals with their own cases using genetic genealogy — many in Madison County,” she says.

Now Miles is putting her DNA expertise to use in examining one of the county’s most notorious murders. The first season of her new podcast, “Beyond Murder Mountain,” will focus on the brutal death of Nancy Morgan.

Morgan, who came to Madison County in 1969 as a volunteer for a federal anti-poverty program, was found murdered in the back seat of her car on the slope of Hot Springs Mountain on June 17, 1970. She had been raped and hogtied.

“I heard about the Nancy Morgan murder from one of my Madison County cousins,” Miles says. “I soon discovered most of my family members remember the crime. Many have shared intimate details with me. Madison County still mourns her loss.”

Miles is producing “Beyond Murder Mountain” with her friend Chris Cook, a former law enforcement officer who was featured in the Netflix documentary series “Murder Mountain,” which looks at the 2013 murder of Garret Rodriguez in Northern California.

“Since beginning our research, we have both become passionate in the quest for justice for Nancy,” Miles says.

The two are in the process of recording the first season of the podcast, which will have six or seven episodes. An exact release date has not been set, but Miles expects it to be available in the next few months.

For more information or to listen to the trailer, go to

Border wars

Before late 1863, Western North Carolina was largely untouched by the fighting of the Civil War. Some civilians even moved to Asheville and Hendersonville from the coastal areas where Union forces were active.

All that changed when Knoxville, Tenn., was retaken by federal troops, who suddenly had a base of operations within striking distance of the North Carolina mountains.

“The last two years, 1864 and 1865, were tremendously fraught for all people in the region,” says Peter Koch, education specialist with the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University. “Economically, there were obviously fewer people working on the farms, but there were still Confederate agents impressing or ‘buying’ supplies for their armies as the region had been seen as a place to draw some material needed for the war effort. And there were more raiding parties coming over from Knoxville area to disrupt the region.”

The Civil War along the North Carolina/Tennessee border will the topic of the first 2022 meeting of the Western North Carolina Civil War Roundtable on Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m. Aaron Astor will be the featured speaker at the free program, which will take place at the Haywood County Library, 678 S. Haywood St., Waynesville.

Astor is an associate professor of history at Maryville College in Tennessee.

“I think the mountain region has been shaped by the war,” Koch says. “Postwar economic deprivation and the long delay in getting the railroad into the region are just a couple physical aspects of what the Civil War brought. How Reconstruction was handled nationally certainly had ramifications for race relations in the mountains.”

The WNC Civil War Roundtable meetings will continue on Monday, June 13, at 7 p.m. with Philip Gerard, who will discuss his recent book, The Last Battleground: The Civil War Comes to North Carolina. On Monday, July 11, Steve Nash will speak about Reconstruction in Western North Carolina.

For more information, visit

Your mother should know

Henderson County’s Historic Johnson Farm will host a Mother’s Day Market on Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The free outdoor craft fair will showcase more than 20 local vendors selling  jewelry, greeting cards, ceramics, leather items, wooden décor and more. Among the vendors will be the Johnson Farm gardeners, the Heritage Weavers & Fiber Artists, and Cards for Hendersonville Causes.

The farmhouse, built in 1876, will be open for self-guided tours. A $5 lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks will be available for purchase.

Historic Johnson Farm is a heritage education museum owned by Henderson County Public Schools. The farm is at 3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville. For more information, go to

Look to the stars

The Magnetic Theatre will present the local premiere of Starbright, written by Asheville resident Sean David Robinson, Friday, May 6-Saturday, May 21.

Starbright, Robinson’s first full-length play, tells the story of an astrophysicist whose life spins out of control following the loss of her daughter. It was selected by the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival and was named winner of the 2018 North Carolina New Play Project and the Centre Stage New Play Festival in Greenville, S.C.

Directed by Ashleigh Millett-Goff, the play will feature Courtney DeGennaro Robinson, Scott Voloshin, Ivy Voloshin and Janet Oliver.

Performances run Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.

The Magnetic Theatre is at 375 Depot St. For tickets or more information, visit

All’s Faire

A-B Tech will host the Asheville Maker Faire on Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The event bills itself a “an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors.”

A-B Tech’s Conference Center is at 16 Fernihurst Drive. For more information, visit

You ought to be in pictures

The Writer’s Workshop will offer a screenplay-writing workshop with Nathan Ross Freeman on Saturday, May 7, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Freeman’s writing credits include the feature films Gem and Mr. Bones.

Participants will learn all aspects of writing a screenplay, including formatting, characterization, sequence structures and how to adapt any genre to a screenplay.

The Writer’s Workshop is at 387 Beaucatcher Road. For more information, go to

Poetry in motion

Fletcher author Carrie J. Myers has released a collection of poems, Soul Confetti: Celebrating Life’s Lessons.

“As a yoga instructor, she discovered new ways to dig deep into her subconscious, pulling from her practice the words that held higher meaning and growth,” states a recent press release. “As she puts her work out into the world, she hopes to inspire change in the hearts and souls of her readers, while holding space for each interpretation to resonate with each soul’s purpose.”

For more information or to buy the book, go to


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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