Edmund Pearson’s “The Disappearance of Doctor Parkman”

PULP NONFICTION

A reading from the pioneers of True Crime

True crime history is not just about reviving the stories of America’s scandals, scoundrels and scourges, but also about exploring the history of true crime as a genre.

Edmund Pearson was a librarian by trade, but also one of the early writers of true crime, who first came to prominence in his articles about the Lizzie Borden trials in the 1890s. In 1928, he wrote a series of eight true crime articles for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about some of America’s Classic murders.

This case takes place in 1849, a week before Thanksgiving, in a laboratory at the Harvard Medical College while the famed physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes was lecturing in the room directly above. The victim was one of Boston’s wealthy elite on a mission to collect a debt from a geology professor.

The Parkman-Webster murder case, as it came to be known, was notable because it was one of the first murder cases where circumstantial forensic evidence was used in a trial.

Musical direction and theme music by Chuck Wiggins.

Produced by Richard O Jones

Clips:

CLICK HERE to view or download a pamphlet containing the complete transcripts of John White Webster’s murder trial>

Description of John White Webster’s execution:

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Sat__Aug_31__1850_

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Sat__Aug_31__1850_ (1)

Illustrations from later accounts:

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 31, 1850
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 31, 1850
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1948
Detroit Free Press, February 18, 1940
Detroit Free Press, February 18, 1940