The Haunting of Natalie Bradford is a book that consisted of years of research and procrastination. Part of the procrastination was due to the fear of what might happen if I exposed secrets that had laid dormant for four decades. During the months of investigation, I interviewed numerous people and spent hours at the local courthouse. For about six weeks, I visited the file room and sat at a small cluttered table reading the documents. I was surrounded by a roomful of more secrets. Some probably more disturbing than the ones that I was uncovering. But those weren’t my story. My story was about a triangle of people. Natalie Houston, Liz Bradford, and Devon Bradford. Most importantly, Natalie Houston.
I remember traveling to a nearby county courthouse and examining the marriage records of Natalie and Devon Bradford. The chancery clerk seemed too concerned about my interest in their public records since I noticed him hanging around the room while I searched the dockets. As I flipped the pages of the large leather bound book, I literally froze when I saw the wedding date. My mouth fell open and I felt my skin tingle as the sensation crawled from the backs of my legs to the top of my head. How could Natalie Bradford NOT have noticed ANY of these strange coincidences when she was involved with Devon Bradford? They married on the birthday of his murdered wife, Liz Bradford. Was she that oblivious to what was transpiring around her?
I managed to gain my composure and begin searching for the couple’s divorce records. I flipped through the pages unaware that the most important coincidence in the entire story was about to surface. There it was. February 6, 1978. Exactly three years after Devon Bradford was indicted for the murder of his first wife, Liz Bradford. A pattern was emerging, but why? Something was happening that was beyond logical explanation.
It’s no secret that Natalie Houston did NOT believe in ghosts or paranormal phenomena. She simply brushed those topics aside as unsolved mysteries, but Natalie found herself in dangerous circumstances that seemed to tell a dead woman’s story. Liz Bradford was murdered on the front parking lot of the prestigious Rex Plaza Motel where she worked. According to court documents and other research, there were no eye witnesses to the murder. We are left to guess what actually occurred on the night of December 21, 1974 just before midnight. And the spirit of Liz Bradford cannot rest…
Weeks passed as I interviewed numerous people. One of the people that I interviewed was in the courtroom during Devon Bradford’s trial. As I began to ask probing questions, he conveniently forgot most of what he was about to say. I was later warned to be careful about how far I was probing into the case. “Some secrets were better left in a dead woman’s grave.”
After I finished my research of Devon Bradford’s trial, I returned to the file room hoping to review the court records one last time. I wanted to make sure that I had not overlooked anything during the process. I greeted the office staff as I walked through the doors of the circuit clerk’s office and made my way to the back of the room where the small, crowded file room was located. I entered the room and placed my backpack on the table that I had been using for the past six weeks. I walked over to the section where Devon Bradford’s court records were filed and began to flip through the folders. I paused and studied the folders with a look of confusion. Gone. All of them. I quickly walked out of the room and questioned the circuit clerk about the file. She offered no explanation except that ‘attorneys come in here all the time and pull files’. I became frustrated and left. I got inside my car and sat there mulling over what could have happened to the missing files. I remembered a conversation that I had a few days before with someone who had announced that I was researching the Bradford case. Lesson learned. NEVER trust anyone when you are doing research that may hold dangerous secrets. I went back in the courthouse and entered the file room. For the next two hours, I searched every cabinet and box in that file room looking for Devon Bradford’s records.
The Haunting of Natalie Bradford became a story of vindication for Liz Bradford. What started out as just another ghost story turned into much more. Fast forward. It’s August, 2015. Devon Bradford’s court transcripts have never been found…