Joy Mills & Tom Parker photo by Eric Frommer - bw.jpg

Hallie Illingworth

By Joy Mills and Tom Parker

JOY MILLS spent 2005-2010 leading the Americana band, The Starlings. In 2011, she formed a band under her own name with Lucien LaMotte on electric guitar and pedal steel, Tom Parker on bass and vocals, Jack Quick on keys and Mike McDermott on drums. She and Tom Parker also perform as an acoustic duo, and co-wrote their song for Fatality Records.

Mills continues to push the edges wider to incorporate classic sounds of early rock ‘n’ roll, country and soulful songwriting. The band’s repertoire maintains an urban country style filled with melodic interplay and layers of pedal steel and electric guitar set against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

In both her solo career and with The Starlings, Mills has garnered extensive reviews, chart-listings and favor both here and abroad. Trick of the Eye landed on Seattle Weekly’s Best Country Albums for 2012, and she was called by The Stranger’s Paul Constant, “Seattle’s liveliest country-flavored act since Neko Case.”  She has supported such artists as Todd Snider, The Avett Brothers, Fred Eaglesmith, The Wood Brothers, and Eilen Jewell. She also provides backing vocals on multiple recordings – including Zoe Muth and the Lost High Roller’s 2011 release, Starlight Hotel, and 2012 release, Old Gold.

Lyrics & Story

Lyrics & Music by Joy Mills and Tom Parker

Down among the fir and hemlock

Came the way of pain and hard luck

Stories dwell and secrets wait

The road curves round Crescent Lake

From here to Port Angeles

Lumberjacks and fisherman

Migration decimating native tribes

Wars in the world and the houses inside

What was it like back then, each rounded bend

Couldn’t see where you were going

What was it like back then, each rounded bend

Couldn’t see where you were going

Every night in cloudless times

Stars shined down like the nursery rhyme

Turn above and retrograde

For three years her body bathed

Rain came down on living moss

No register of a gain or a loss

Along every needle and limb

Silence hung like a hymn

Long lost stories, Hallie Illingworth

So much between a death and a birth

The morning light and a daily breath

The crescent moon in the great northwest

Track Credits

Tom Parker - Vocals & Guitar

Joy Mills - Vocals

Recorded and Mixed by Daniel Guenther at Jack Straw

Mastered by Moe Provencher at Jack Straw

© Joy Mills and Tom Parker 2019


By Amanda Winterhalter

When the fisherman found the floating body, her face, her fingers, her toes were gone. And her skin was white and supple as soap. Old ballads sing of irascible men throwing lovers into rivers, lakes, oceans. Before Christmas in 1937 Monty Illingworth strangled his wife Hallie, wrapped and weighted her, and threw her into the then unknown depths of Lake Crescent.

Just under 20 miles west of Port Angeles stretch the glacial waters of Lake Crescent. According to Klallum tribal legend, Mount Storm King threw down a boulder in his anger at warring tribes below, and the boulder’s impact created the crescent-shaped lake. At a maximum depth of 648 feet, it is the second deepest lake in Washington State. Near the shores, you can stand on a dock at the Lake Crescent Lodge and peer down to the bottom of its cyan waters. It’s the lack of nitrogen that keeps algae from growing here, giving the gem-like lake its mesmerizing clarity and hue.

Hallie Latham Illingworth worked as a barmaid at the Lake Crescent Lodge when she married Monty Illingworth in 1936. Originally from Kentucky, she had moved to nearly the furthest reach of the contiguous United States. Perhaps she was looking for a fresh start after a couple of unsuccessful marriages. Perhaps she thought Monty, a dashing and dark-haired man who delivered the beer, could be the one that stuck.

Monty had a reputation as a skirt chaser, which soon caught up with him after he married Hallie. Their short marriage was known to be rocky, especially after Hallie began showing up to work with bruises on her arms and neck, and black eyes. Late one night after Hallie’s shift at the Lodge, the police were called to break up a fight between the couple.

After she stopped showing up to work and none of her family had heard from her over the Christmas holiday in 1937, Hallie was reported missing. Monty claimed that she had two-timed him and run away with a Navy officer. He sought a divorce on grounds of incompatibility (strangely, rather than desertion), and though Hallie’s family doubted the veracity of Monty’s story, the Clallam County judge granted the divorce after so many months of Hallie’s absence. Monty quickly moved to California with Elinor Pearson, daughter of a wealthy timber magnate. The gossip in Port Angeles was that he’d been fooling around with Elinor before Hallie’s disappearance.

Hallie’s body spent about three years drifting in the frigid depths of Lake Crescent. A chemical reaction between the minerals in the lake and the acids in her body caused the wax-like saponification which preserved her so well. Finally, the ties on the weights wrapped around her deteriorated completely, and her body floated unassumingly to the surface. When the fishermen brought her to shore in 1940 and the ensuing investigation’s headlines rivaled news from the front of World War II, Monty Illingworth was arrested in Long Beach and brought back to Washington to stand trial for Hallie’s murder.

Three pieces of evidence condemned Monty as the culprit: local friends of Hallie’s identified the clothes that the dead body wore, a South Dakota dentist identified a special dental plate on the body that he’d made specifically for Hallie, and the rope tied around the body matched the fibers from remnants of a rope Monty had borrowed from a lake storekeeper. Although the locals whispered during the investigation that Monty didn’t act alone in the crime, no one else was ever charged. Monty was found guilty of second degree murder, the jury concluding that he had not premeditated the crime, and was sentenced to life in prison at Walla Walla State Penitentiary. He served nine years and was paroled in 1951.

For Further Reading


Atlas Obscura

Lake Crescent