Joyce McKinney and the Case of
The Manacled Mormon
By Anthony Delano
Barnes & Noble, New York
The real McKinney
By Derek Jameson
It was a tabloid editor’s dream come true. Thirty years on and the pulse still quickens at the thought of Southern belle Joyce McKinney abducting her former lover, Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, shackling him to a bed and Having Her Way with him. In a Dartmoor cottage, of all places.
Joyce herself reckoned it was the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Under arrest on kidnapping charges, she told Epsom magistrates that such was her love for Anderson, ‘I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose.’
Released on bail, she made whoopee on Fleet Street expenses while frenzied picture editors plotted how to get a shot of her on skis, preferably naked. ‘No waayy,’ she said, ‘No way would Ah ever take off mah clothes before a camera. Ah am a religious person.’
Shortly before she was due in dock at the Old Bailey, she was taken to the pictures – Joan Collins in The Stud – in a Daily Express Roller and later escorted home to her lodgings. Then she disappeared.
Mirror executive Anthony Delano, having given us the hilarious story of the bungled attempt to bring train robber Ronnie Biggs home from Brazil (Slip-Up, Revel Barker Publishing, £9.99), subsequently produced a blow-by-blow account of the McKinney saga under the title Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon.
It was a rush job, produced for Mirror Books in 1978, and in recent times has become a collector’s item selling for more than £100. Now Delano, who these days has given up daily deadlines for a university professor’s chair, has plugged gaps in the earlier book, tidied up the text and adjusted the title to Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon. He has also binned 16 pages of tacky pictures, which I rather missed, but the book still promises to be as big a sensation as the first version.
The basic facts remain unaltered. In September 1977 Joy, as she liked to be called, and her faithful and supposedly platonic acolyte Keith May, were charged with kidnapping Anderson, a missionary dispatched from Utah presumably to escape the attentions of McKinney. He told police he was grabbed outside a Mormon church in Epsom, bundled into a car and driven to the rented cottage in Devon.
There he was held for three days, shackled to an iron bed. On the third night May appeared with chains, ropes and padlocks. Anderson was tied to the four corners of the bed and McKinney then forced him to take part in a sex session, claiming she wanted to conceive as she had miscarried his baby in America.
What makes Delano’s superbly told story unique is his detailed reporting of Fleet Street tabloids at work and the thinking of the two editors principally involved, Mike Molloy of the Daily Mirror and yours truly, Derek Jameson of the Daily Express – not long before that, Molloy’s friend and deputy at the Mirror. Delano is the man who knows all – at the time he was the Mirror’s chief correspondent in America.
The essence of the story was the way in which Joy managed to persuade the Express – so triumphant to have found her in hiding in Atlanta – that she was a God-fearing innocent whose only crime was her obsessive love for Kirk Anderson, while the Mirror’s parallel investigation discovered that this former beauty queen with the surgically enhanced breasts actually made her money as a massage parlour queen touting weird sexual services in Los Angeles.
Peter Tory, then of the Hickey column, had escorted Joy to the movie premiere on the night before she did her vanishing act. His pride severely wounded, he subsequently found her hiding in Atlanta with Keith May. It seemed only fair to me that Tory should handle her exclusive story, for which I paid her the princely sum of £40,000.
The highly experienced, ebullient Brian Vine and chief photographer Bill Lovelace were dispatched to assist Tory and the Express team hit the road, never staying Iong in the same place. Joy was afraid the FBI was after her; Tory and Vine were more worried about the competition.
Delano writes: ‘Along the way Tory and Vine debriefed Joy, shaped and polished the story of her life before and after Kirk…The series was to run for a full week. It was fragrant with innocence and maidenly pride. The Mormons had been beastly so had the British. It would have been impossible for her and Keith to get a fair trial because no one in Britain could understand what she had felt for Kirk.’
Back at the Mirror, Molloy and his team – notably photographer Kent Gavin, who had acquired 300 sleazy photographs, and reporters Roger Beam, Frank Palmer and Jill Evans – were chuckling. They learnt from bookings for TV commercials that the Express was about to publish. That would let loose the Mirror bombshell. Molloy had been sitting on the sensational revelations for weeks, fearing to publish in case he was held to have influenced a jury. In the event, the CPS dropped all proceedings.
Molloy unlocked his safe and handed out his layouts. ‘Only one headline on Page One,’ he instructed: The Real McKinney.
It was the tabloid scoop of the decade, says Delano. The Express presses were still spilling out the anodyne version that Vine and Tory had concocted while a few hundred yards to the west Mirror vans were pulling away with bundles of papers that displayed Joy in all her nakedness.
Hearing the news in a shabby hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Caroline, Joy went berserk. Tory recalled: ‘She rushed for the windows, clawing her way up the curtains. She was dressed in her nun’s habit. She looked like a giant bat.’ Eventually she was restrained, taken to hospital and sedated.
Delano concludes: Jameson took it like a man. He made his way to the Mirror’s favourite pub, appropriately named the Stab in the Back, took in the riotous celebration going on there, and thrust both hands in the air. ‘I surrender!’
‘What else could I do?’ he asked afterwards. ‘They are all my mates. They had done a marvellous job, much as it hurt me to say so. What could I do but buy them all a drink.’
Delano recounts a strange sequel to this tale of tabloid tears and laughter... Joy turned up in Seoul earlier this year with a scrap of the ear of her late pit-bull terrier, Booger. She later produced five puppies she said had been cloned by Korean scientists. Using the name Bernann McKinney, she denied she was Joyce – but the game was up when her picture made the papers. True to form, she disappeared again, leaving behind five puppies – and a bill for £25,000.
Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon is published by Revel Barker and is currently available with free deliver worldwide from The Book Depository
Those were the days – Fleet Street’s
great scoop on the manacled Mormon
By Roy Greenslade
Another classic book about Fleet Street newspaper fun and frolics, Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon by Tony Delano, has been republished by Revel Barker.
It concerns the 1977 story of a former Miss Wyoming who was accused by a young Mormon missionary of abducting him, chaining him to a bed in a Dartmoor cottage and raping him. I kid you not.
The tabloids fought to obtain an exclusive interview with McKinney, especially after she told a court hearing that such was her love for the man: "I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose." Released on bail, she then vanished.
Leading the pack to track her down were the Daily Mirror, then edited by Mike Molloy, and the Daily Express, edited by Derek Jameson. Both men deployed teams of their finest troops.
Delano captures in great detail how they all went about their task and there's a very generous review on the gentlemenranters site by Jameson, who lost out in the end.
Delano also tells how McKinney returned to the headlines last year and, as the Daily Telegraph headline indicates, Dog cloner Joyce McKinney sought over burglary to fund horse's wooden leg, she remains as eccentric as ever.
Anthony Delano brings 60 years of high-voltage journalistic experience to his books on stories that fired the imagination of newspaper readers, worldwide. In Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon, he has again struck gold. His research, and attention to detail, is faultless.
Any journalists who were involved in the Joyce McKinney story will nod their heads in approval of Delano's meticulous investigation into what really happened when McKinney manacled a Mormon to her bed. And any journalists who were not involved will for ever wish they had been. A superb read.