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Henry Stevens Frances Hall and William Stevens Trial: 1926 - "i Have The Greatest Of All Blessings", A Mule-riding Pig Woman, "a Sort Of Genius"

jersey guilty bodies brunswick

Defendants: Frances Stevens Hall, Henry Stevens, and William Stevens
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Clarence E. Case, Robert H. McCarter, and Timothy N. Pfeiffer
Chief Prosecutors: Francis L. Bergen and Alexander Simpson
Judges: Frank L. Cleary and Charles W. Parker
Place: Somerville, New Jersey
Dates of Trial: November 3-December 3, 1926
Verdict: Not guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: This trial came four years after the execution-style murders of two lovers—both adulterers—had produced sensational headlines nationwide. In what mystery writer Rex Stout called "sustained official ineptitude surely never surpassed anywhere," New Jersey authorities were unable for four years to produce an indictment. When they finally did so and the trial resulted in acquittal, The New York Times commented, "Jersey Justice can at least acquit the innocent if it cannot always find the guilty." The crime has never been solved.

On Saturday morning, September 16, 1922, a young couple strolling on a lovers' lane on the outskirts of New Brunswick, New Jersey, discovered two bodies. A woman's head lay on a man's right arm, her hand on his knee, a scarf over her throat. The man's business card leaned against his foot. Scattered over the bodies were pieces of paper.

The man was the Reverend Edward W. Hall, rector of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist. Handsome and popular, he had some 11 years earlier, at the age of 30 married 37-year-old Frances Noel Stevens, daughter of a well-to-do New Brunswick family.

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