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Musick to unravel ‘Howard Hughes’ Mystery

Mark Musick shook and rattled Pike County in August with his claim that Verner Nicely, the reclusive husband of native Eva McLelland, was actually Howard Hughes – the Howard Hughes.

Musick backed his claim with detailed “proof” in the book, “Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes,” written by Douglas Wellman. Musick and Wellman worked together to gather research to substantiate the information provided to Musick by McLelland after her husband’s death in 2002.

McLelland’s claim was that Hughes had assumed the identity of Verner Nicely, who disappeared while working with the CIA in Panama in the late 1960s. Nicely and McLelland married in the Canal Zone in 1970.

McLelland further claimed that the longhaired, bearded, emaciated, reclusive “Howard Hughes” who died in 1976 was a stand-in who was either mentally ill or addicted to drug.

McLelland and Nicely lived in the Goshen area from 1988 until 1999. McLelland died in 2009 at the age of 93.

There were many skeptics in the county and some that said McLelland’s claim was the most outlandish thing they had ever heard. Then, there were those who said, “Maybe, just maybe.”

Musick will be in Pike County Dec. 11 through 16 to present discuss “Boxes” and present additional information that has been made available to him since the book hit the stands and to talk with those who knew the couple.

“The main purpose of the visit to Pike County is to talk with people who knew Nik and Eva to see if the information in the book fits with what they know about the couple,” Musick said. “Since the book came out, people have come forward with all kinds of information and I want to take these bits and pieces and see if they actually fit in the story and, if so, how.”

Musick will make presentations at several locations and hold book signings at others.

“As I meet people who knew Nik and Eva, hopefully some of them with have information that will add to what we already know,” he said.

“And, if they have questions about the information, hopefully, we can answer them to their satisfaction and understanding.”

Musick said he is 100 percent convinced that Verner Nicely was Howard Hughes and that, when all of the information is gathered and sifted and strained, there will be no question about it for others.

Those who are teetering on belief and those who think the claim is an out-and-out fabrication are invited to attend one of Musick’s presentations.

On Saturday, Musick will be at the Johnson Center for the Arts at 2:30 p.m. for a book signing. At 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, he will make a presentation at the Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen.

Musick will speak at the Luverne Rotary Club at noon on Monday and at the Brundidge Lions Club at 6 p.m. On Tuesday, he will speak to the Troy Kiwanis Club at 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, the Colley Senior Complex will host Musick at 10 a.m. and he will be interviewed by WTBF Radio at 1 p.m. and Barnes and Noble will host a book signing at 2:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Musick will face those who probably knew the couple best at the Goshen Senior Center at 10:15 a.m.