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September 08, 2015


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Kemper Marley was Arizona's Noah Cross. He was too rich, too powerful, too proud, and too self-important. If in the unlikely event he didn't order the hit on Bolles, he still brazenly broadcast his above-the-law mystique to any impressionable newcomer to the state. Say, John McCain, who married the daughter of one of his Marley's top lieutenants, Jim Hensley.

At the end of his life, Marley made a farewell appearance on the cover of Phoenix Magazine, smiling directly at anyone who dared look or doubt his victory. At his funeral, held in the Church of the Beatitudes, and attended by a who's who of local power brokers, including Barry Goldwater, the "hymn" that was heard via a recording was My Way (I'm assuming Frank Sinatra's rendition). And to close the final deal, his trust spent lavishly on naming rights for the Arizona Historical Society's new museum, and the College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona.

We may never know for certain what exactly happened but it hardly matters. Print the legend because it has undying poetic truth. Arizona wasn't built by prissy Congregationalists but people like Marley. You don't like it? Move to Vermont.

Good read. Thanks Rogue and soleri.

I believe a note that DB left behind said something close to "meet adamson about Steiger land deal."

as always, excellent writing, Jon. I remember well when Don was murdered and how horrifying it was. We were gripped by the story. I agree with soleri, you don't like it, move to VT!

We stay at the Clarendon every time we come to town and their tribute to Bolles is excellent.

My sister's teacher when this happened was Jane Adamson, who was his wife? daughter?, so I remember being shocked about the whole thing. Violent crime [on the level of the mob] was not so noticed by 12-year-olds of the day.

Those of us who worked at the R&G at that time will never forget covering this story.

I think the County attorney that the state took the case from was Interim Attorney Don Harris?

Once again, you've said something surprising and fresh about a subject that I thought I knew well. Nicely done. What about the connection, though, to the 1978 prison breakout and murder spree of Gary Tison? He had been recruited to shank informant Tony Serra (connected with Ned Warren and other Central Ave. sleazebags) in the license plate shop, and then was rewarded with light supervision. If there is a classic Arizona corruption story that links the high corridors of power with some of the trashiest and meanest elements of the state, this is it.

Tom, yes. That is exactly right.

We recently acquired a large addition to Scottsdale Daily Progress editor Jonathan Marshall's papers, which included about a foot of his Bolles murder research files. Looked to be mostly newsclips, but there were a couple audio interview tapes that looked interesting.

Six sticks of dynamite only did that much damage to the car?

I have also wondered about the Tison connection, and how true it is. Would the people who knew the truth still be alive?

Marshall was out of his league -- he owned a newspaper and thought that made him a reporter.

"Age 47, Bolles was a reporter of the old school. He did not rewrite press releases or produce stories that had 'just' in the headline. Whether or not he 'loved' or 'despised' Arizona was irrelevant to his job, for journalists see the world differently from mere civilians." Heavy.wistful sigh.

I have to keep checking back on this one just in case there's a confession.

I'd love to write a screenplay about Bolles and The Arizona Project.

DB died for doing his job. It was tragedy for sure. But how often does this happen? That it did was news.

It makes one appreciate cops, truckers, loggers, electrical linemen, and construction workers. Every day they go to work and could very well die doing their job. I was an electrical engineer and the worst I could expect was, maybe, carpal syndrome from performing my job.

WKG, he died in agony, 11 days, three amputations. An attack on a journalist is an attack on the public.

Oh God, you watch a TV show, read a paper even polish off a biography and the chase begins. I was relaxing at home when a A&E show can on, something to do the treasures of a museum, Don Bolles blown up Datson is mentioned and there it is. I don't recall where the museum was located, the point is that the car was an exhibit and the story of the Bolles killing followed. Funny thing, Kemper Marley's name was never mentioned
Naturally the next step is the Internet and here I am.
I was a junior at ASU majoring in Accounting, now called Accountancy, when the Bolles murder occurred. My father in law would be part of the Phoenix 40 East along with people such as "Tex" Earnhardt. He knew Marley yet refused to speak about the murder or about Marley. You did a beautiful job in describing Phoenix and those who controlled the town. Your writing produced an excitement deep inside me some kind of a connection with the past and the desire to read all I could find concerning that time. There were tears also, what a sad day, a local version of the Kennady assassination, when you discover that your world isn't as safe and decent as you believed it to be.

"It makes one appreciate cops, truckers, loggers, electrical linemen, and construction workers. Every day they go to work and could very well die doing their job"

Sorry sir I miss the connection you are attempting to make. Don Bolles died because of who he was and what he did. This was not an accident, not a work related injury in the typical sense.
In essence he was probing the dark corners, places most of us have no desire to visit to search for a truth hidden by money and influence. The killing was personal, a member of my family I never met.

40 years ago I was in high school (Arcadia). One classmate was DB's son. Another - the nephew of Ned Warren.

Let the story live on . . .

It was Adamson, Robison, and Dunlap. Period, the end. Add in Dunlap's history w/Marley, negative articles reMarley, and you have the core scenario.
Pulling other 'mob' stuff into it only clouds the base facts & sends you off chasing the minutia........

This group of powerful killers still exist in Phoenix to this very day ... they are judges, attorneys, business owners, insurance company and others and they run Arizona and control all the media ...

I was 16 at the time and remember this greatly. Sadly, I didn't know then how it would impact me today in the community I live in. Stay tuned, recent indictments referencing the ACC has finally led reporters to listen. They didn't believe me a few years ago when my research showed me our local utility had a connection to those days. The "web" from then still exists. The apathy the state has, and had then, only to subside slightly, still exists. I came across this a few years ago when my intuition of those days and today paid off in my discovery. Just want people to know that it hasn't ended completely. Just takes a different form.

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