Truth or Blarney: Murders both gruesome and casual of 1895-6

Scroll down to content

There are a few murders that pop up in my novel, and readers have asked, how do you  cook up the details of the most outrageous murder? Are you fueled by ghastly nightmares? Should we be worried? In the worst story, a pregnant music student is lured to her death by two men who are particularly vicious and stupid in both the killing and the cover up. They decapitate her in order to disguise her identity and carry her head off in her own bag after the initial crime. She is later identified by her shoes.

It’s a true crime, of course. The story, unnecessarily sensationalized, was syndicated widely in the newspapers of the time. I didn’t have to make it creepier–it was just that bad. The victim was a young woman named Pearl Bryan and because murders like Pearl’s sold a lot of papers, it got a kind of coverage we could never see today. When was the last time you saw a transcript of an interrogation in the news right after the crime?

Pearl's head
Buckle up if you search for this; there is a lot of material. There’s even a ballad, or six.

The accused killers were both nearly lynched and eventually hanged, after their guilty verdicts. It seems like justice was done, but as usual, it’s not that tidy or that simple.

The convicted killers never confessed, and because the eyewitness accounts were constantly shifting and changing, it’s very difficult to sort out who really did what and when. Pearl may have died during a botched abortion and the doctor may have taken her head to hide her identity. On top of all that, a couple of wealthy families were put in peril by this situation and were able to evade paying any legal penalty for their part in the situation or the maybe-not murder.

Nobody asked me if the casual murders in my novel are real, but some of them are and some of them aren’t. I guess everyone accepts casual murder as a fact of life. The one where the woman shot a child for stealing fruit from her yard? That one was also straight from the headlines.

Humans!! Be careful out there.

Further, further reading:


My novel is available and the electronic version is instant gratification!! There’s a forty-page free preview if you click on the look inside doohickey, which looks like this:  look inside

Happy reading!! I look forward to hearing from you!!


2 Replies to “Truth or Blarney: Murders both gruesome and casual of 1895-6”

Waddaya think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: