You’re probably familiar with the old adage: “always a bridesmaid, never a bride”. Well, for Nina James Angus Miles, 37, the converse was true. It seemed that Nina was always a bride. She was about to embark on her seventh trip to the altar when, on August 15, 1957, her intended, Guy F. Roberts a 45 year old ad executive for Morrell & Co meat packers was shot gunned to death in the Santa Monica motel room they’d been sharing.
Nina and her son, Charles Lee Guy III, 19, were booked on suspicion of murder. Charles had only recently been kicked loose from the California Youth Authority Prison in Tracy where he’d been held for drunk driving and car theft. To cops the young man seemed like a good bet for the killing. They told him that if he did the right thing and confessed to the crime he could save his mom from a prison stretch. After twelve sleepless hours in custody and being subjected to relentless questioning, Charles confessed and Nina was released.
In his confession, Charles, who appeared to have had no motive for the slaying, said that he must have blacked out and murdered Roberts.
However, my guess is that his mom and her live-in boyfriend had much more to do with Roberts’ death than Charles did – and here’s why:
Nina and Wilson “Billy” Miles, 49, had been live-in lovers for about three years – she had even been using his last name. Billy was a music teacher and played an occasional piano bar gig in Santa Monica. In a truly stupid move, Billy introduced Nina to the wealthier Roberts and the next thing he knew the pair were engaged to be married! Roberts and Nina were even looking at homes in Brentwood.
Billy had been overheard to mutter that he’d like to teach Roberts a lesson. Maybe he finally did.
On the evening of the murder Nina asked Charles to go with her to the bar where Billy had a gig. She wanted to break the news of her upcoming nuptials to him, but didn’t want to go alone. Billy had broken her nose once before and she was afraid that her news would send him into a rage.
Once she and Charles arrived at the bar, Billy told the kid to “get lost”. Charles left at about 12:20 am in Roberts’ car, leaving Nina with no cash and no ride home. Billy invited Nina back to his place for a nightcap (perhaps a euphemism for something cozier). At 2:30 am Nina left Billy’s house in a cab and returned to the motel. According to her story she ran upstairs to the room, and in the dark grabbed some change off of the dresser to pay the cabbie. Once she returned to the room she switched on the light and found the place ransacked and Roberts bloody body on the bed.
At 3 am Charles turned up at Billy’s house, where he’d been living, and went to bed. Cops came to arrest him later that morning. He couldn’t say were he’d been since leaving the bar and claimed to have no memory of killing Roberts. He said he was fond of the man; it was Billy he had problems with.
On August 22nd, Nina was found unconscious in Billy Miles’ home at 419 S. Hill Street in Santa Monica by a friend, Irma L. Tackett. Doctors at Santa Monica Hospital reported that Nina was in fair condition after having had her stomach pumped following an overdose of sleeping pills. Cops deemed the incident an attempted suicide.
Charles went to trial in October defended by his birth-father, Charles Lee Guy Jr., a North Carolina attorney who had been admitted, as a courtesy, to the California State Bar so that he could defend his son. Also in Charles’ corner were two of his step-dads.
Charles had recanted his confession saying that it had been obtained under duress. Evidently Judge Allen T. Lynch agreed and he ruled that the confession was not admissible as evidence because Santa Monica police had implied during questioning that if Charles confessed his mother would be released.
Charles’ ordeal wasn’t over, it was only delayed — a retrial was scheduled to begin just days after the mistrial was declared.
NEXT TIME: Charles Lee Guy’s story continues.