Some crimes are news for a day. Some crimes are talked about for decades. In 1983, Sandy Bird, wife of Missouri Lutheran Synod minister Tom Bird, died in a suspicious car wreck near Rocky Ford Bridge southeast of Emporia, Kansas. Just a few months later, Marty Anderson, the husband of Lorna Anderson–Tom Bird’s secretary–was gunned down in front of his family on a quiet rural highway in central Kansas. (Read more about the murders here.) The sinister and juicy story conflicted Emporians who knew the families and caught the imaginations of reporters all over the country, and the people of Emporia found themselves the subject of a made-for-television miniseries called Murder Ordained.
Trooper John Rule (played by Keith Carradine) talks with reporters Bobbi Birk (played by Kathy Bates) and Nancy Horst (played by Margot Rose) of the Emporia Gazette in Murder Ordained.
When Bobbi Mlynar (Bobbi Birk back then) began reporting on the Bird/Anderson murders, she had no idea the case would span her entire career, or that she’d find herself played by Kathy Bates on the small screen. During our April 7 meeting, Mlynar will talk about the case, reporting, and be available to answer other questions.
More about Bobbi Mlynar, in her own words:
Annoying children — forever tugging on a sleeve and asking, “Why? Why?” — sometimes carry over their annoying habit into adulthood. The most obnoxious among them probably become reporters. I did.
While working part-time as a keypunch operator at The Emporia Gazette and attending classes at the College of Emporia, the newspaper’s editor and publisher William Lindsay White convinced me to forget about history and political science and to go into journalism instead.
It was good advice where job satisfaction was concerned.
During my first 31 years at The Gazette, I also was a stringer for The Kansas City Star, The Topeka Capital-Journal, and United Press International. The Associated Press had free access to any of my stories because of The Gazette’s AP membership, so I’ve been published — but not paid — by numerous newspapers across the country.
I’ve received a few citations from the AP for my work, but have never submitted any stories for competitions through news organizations. However, my friend and fellow Gazette reporter Nancy Horst and I were nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes — which we did not win. (One went to a Kentucky newspaper for a university basketball scandal and I really don’t remember who won in the other category.)
I was co-writer on two books about Kansas storms and was a ghost writer for a book of vignette feature stories.
The Gazette forcibly promoted me to city editor in the late 1980s and, after a few of the most boring years I’d had in journalism, I left my career in 1994 and ended up in public relations, marketing, and fundraising.
I worked in the international department of a web press company and was public affairs supervisor for a statewide child-welfare agency, and for a time in-between, helped my son in his business.
After retirement in 2010, I was elected to the Emporia City Commission and now am serving my second 4-year term. I continue to do limited freelance writing and am gathering material for a book about some scandalous and murderous affairs in and around Emporia. I also am gathering anecdotes for a humorous look at menopause and the female aging process.
Join us Saturday, April 7, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.