In 2003, Pat Roberts got a call from her cousin. She told Roberts, who lived in New York, that she should read a series published by a newspaper in Columbia, Missouri.
The paper had just printed a decades-old family secret — one that neither of them knew.
"Legacy of a Lynching," which ran in the Columbia Missourian in May of that year, told the story of a black man's murder at the hands of a white mob 80 years before. It went something like this:
On April 20, 1923, a 14-year-old white girl was attacked on the MKT Railroad tracks near MU. The girl identified a black man named James T. Scott as her attacker, and he was charged with attempted rape.
But his case never went to trial. Instead, a white mob broke into his jail cell, dragged him through the streets and hung him from the Stewart Road bridge. No members of the mob were ever convicted of a crime.
Scott was killed on April 29, 1923.