“In the early part of 1887, the good city of Lewiston, Maine, was thrown into considerable excitement by the discovery of a young woman dead on the street, with her newly born babe beside her. Upon investigation by the police, Elmer D. Morrill was arrested for the crime of murdering her, and the grand jury found an indictment against him for murder. The cause of the murder was at first considerably shrouded in mystery; but subsequent events pointed to the above individual.”
Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.
ExecutedToday.com has been posting an execution story every day since Halloween 2007 so it’s not surprising when they come up with a murder not covered by Murder by Gaslight. Here is the story of the Blanc brothers, driven to murder by reading sensational books.
On this date in 1897, some 4,000 residents of Lafayette turned up to watch the hanging of two Parisian-born young men.
It had been nearly a full year since Martin Begnaud was discovered bound, gagged, and stabbed over 50 times in his general store at Scott, Louisiana, just outside Lafayette. That was on April 22, 1896. The motive was self-evident: the prosperous late burgher had been plundered of several thousand dollars. But who did it?
The matter remained a mystery for many months, although two men were indicted for the deed — and blessedly never brought to trial.
But a few days after the murders, brothers Ernest and Alexis Blanc, teenage French orphans who were sharecropping on a plantation in April 1896 also abruptly disappeared without even bothering to sell their crop shares. This naturally raised suspicion as well, but their whereabouts were totally unknown and as months passed any hope of finding them had practically vanished.