On July 16, 1926, Donald Mellett was shot in front of his home. The editor of Ohio’s Canton Daily News had picked a fight with the wrong people.
Over the past 18 months, he had exposed multiple issues of corruption among the Canton police, eventually forcing the mayor to suspend the police chief. But the underworld’s ties ran deep. So deep, that three local gangsters and a detective conspired to get rid of him. Of course, the first official investigation turned up nothing. Eventually, an outside, private investigator cleared the case and all culprits were sentenced to life in prison.
And while it barely registers as a sideshow next to one of America’s most publicized crimes in the 1920s, it’s another life that was at stake which is of interest to us today.
Shortly before his death, Mellett had struck a deal with a visiting lecturer. He’d been so impressed with the man’s ideas that they’d decided to publish them come January, when Mellett was to resign from his editor’s duties.
The morning after Mellett’s assassination, the man received an anonymous phone call, telling him he would leave Canton. He could leave on his own within the hour or wait longer and do so in a pine box — but leave he would.
Terrified, the man got into his car and drove for eight hours straight, not resting until he reached his relatives in the remote mountains of West Virginia. There, he went into hiding. Nobody would see him for months.
The name of that man was Napoleon Hill.
Joanna is in her early 30s. She’s tall, blonde, and hyper-competitive. She was a national rower, worked for the FBI, and trained Middle Eastern police forces. At the time she grabs dinner with her friend Kamal in late 2013, she’s already sold two companies, with her third about to go public. He tells the story:
She’s sitting against the wall and I’m facing her. We talk about our lives, things that have really formed us, who we are. Out of the blue, she tells me that, when she was 24, she had a heart attack and she died for seven minutes.
I was like okayyy and so I leaned forward: “I gotta ask: What happened?”
She goes: “I don’t remember.”