Saturday, October 25, 2014
The most fascinating murder cases of the 19th Century are the ones that remain unsolved. Their stories have inspired writers and criminologists and seem to bring out the amateur sleuth in everyone. Every new theory brings a new round of debate but leads us no closer to resolution. Here are the Murder by Gaslight cases that will remain forever unsolved:
The brutal murder of wealthy stockbroker Benjamin Nathan in his own home, resembles a classic “looked-room” mystery, but without a master detective to solve it. Suspects ranged from family members and servants to nationally known professional criminals. Speculation went on for years but no one knows who killed Benjamin Nathan.
Sarah Meservey was found strangled to death in her home in the isolated town of Tenant’s Harbor, Maine. Her neighbor, Nathan Hart, was found guilty of the murder on evidence so circumstantial that many in town refused to accept the verdict. The controversy continues to this day and the Hart-Meservey murder remains “Maine’s most unusual unsolved murder case.”
Walking home from her fiancé’s house one night, Rose Ambler was stabbed and beaten to death by an unknown assailant. The motive was unclear; she had not been robbed or raped. Rose’s complicated romantic life provided several suspects but all had airtight alibis. Speculation continued for years but no one was ever tried for Rose Ambler’s murder.
When the mutilated body of aging prostitute, Carrie Brown, was found in a New York City hotel room, the press compared the murder to those of Jack the Ripper. To quell hysteria, the police quickly arrested an Algerian named Ameer Bin Ali. But someone had tampered with the evidence and Ali was ruled innocent. It has never been determined who killed Carrie Brown.
Most people today believe that Lizzie Borden killed her father and stepmother in a vicious daylight axe murder. In 1892 there was not enough evidence to convict her, and given the same evidence, she would probably be acquitted today as well. In the years that followed, dozens of theories have been published attempting to either prove or disprove Lizzie’s guilt and a plethora of alternative suspects have emerged. Who actually swung the axe remains unknown.
Lucy Pollard was the victim of a brazen daytime axe murder in her home in Lunenburg County Virginia. Three African American women were nearly hanged on the testimony of an unreliable witness. They were freed when he was proven to be a liar, but the real killer of Lucy Pollard was never found.