In a colorful scandal that engrossed the region, Chester Burge, a wealthy slumlord and bootlegger who lived on Jackson Springs Rd. in Macon’s Shirley Hills district, was tried and acquitted of murdering his wife, Mary, in 1960, but was instead found guilty of sodomy with his African-American chauffeur. Mary was found strangled to death in their home and her finger, which held a 10-carat diamond, was almost severed from her hand. At the time of her death, her husband was recuperating from hernia surgery at the Macon Hospital, but certain clues suggested her death was an inside job. Her parrot had been killed earlier that day and the family dog had been locked in the basement. The 10-carat diamond, pried from the setting, was left in the carpet. The more investigators learned about Chester Burge’s private life, the more they suspected that he was somehow responsible, either by sneaking out of the hospital’s side exit, possibly assisted by his chauffeur, Louis Roosevelt Johnson, or through a contract killing of some sort. In 1963, Burge died in an explosion at his home in Florida that has never been explained. He ran from the blast in the nude and on fire, his skin hanging from his bones like a baggy suit.
Read more in A Peculiar Tribe Of People by local author, Richard Jay Hutto