“Well since my baby left me, well I found a new place to dwell. Well it’s down on the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel.”

If you’re of a certain vintage, the lyrics to Heartbreak Hotel are probably tattooed onto your memory. It was Elvis Presley’s first number one pop hit, and is considered by many to be one of the most important songs in the history of rock and roll.

Written in 1955 by songwriters Tommy Durden and Mae Axton (mother of Hoyt Axton), it’s also a song with a mysterious past. Durden has always claimed it was inspired by a real-life story he read in the Miami Herald. “The newspaper article, as he remembered it, was the death of a man by suicide, leaving behind a note that said I walk a lonely street” says Carleton University Journalism Professor, Randy Boswell.

The problem is, for sixty years, countless Elvis historians and fans have searched for and failed to find any record of that newspaper article. “I think it’s almost a joke at the Miami-Dade Library”, says Boswell, “that somebody has come in to look for the article from 1955 and nobody has ever found it.”

It turns out they were looking for the wrong lonely street.

Randy Boswell says he has solved the mystery not by looking in Miami, but in El Paso, Texas. Scanning digitized records of old newspapers, he came across the story of a man who was shot and killed in a botched liquor store robbery. A man who once told police his life as a criminal was the story of a person who walks a lonely street. He also wrote those words in an unpublished autobiography. “How many people, in August 1955, in newspapers in the United States were summing up their life as "I walk a lonely street?" says Boswell.

What’s more, 27-year-old Alvin Krolik of Chicago also once confessed to police that he fell into his lonely life of crime because of heartbreak – a failed marriage to a beautiful nightclub musician named Agnes Sampson.

All these details - the lonely street, the heartbreak - came out in newspaper articles about his death. The articles were picked up by a wire service and used in countless newspapers across the American south, including one likely read by Tommy Durden. “There are just too many coincidences,” asserts Boswell, “The timing is right. The type of story is correct, and of course above all, the phrase."

The lonely street that helped launch a legend and, now, helped solve a mystery.