Saturday, October 5, 2013

Murderous Clergy.

In the nineteenth century men of the cloth were often looked upon with as much suspicion as respect. When a minister was accused of murder it would turn the community against him, especially if a woman was involved. Though often condemned in the court of public opinion, clergymen fared much better in a court of law. All of the religious leaders in in our list were acquitted (though one Sunday school superintendent was hanged.)

Rev. Ephraim Kingsbury Avery - 1832

Rev. Ephraim Kingsbury Avery was accused of seducing and murdering Sarah Maria Cornell, but the two had a long, contentious history and the jury was convinced that Sarah killed herself and framed Rev. Avery.

The Prophet Matthias - 1834

Robert Mathiews, aka the Prophet Matthias, was the leader of a religious cult and controlled all aspects of his followers’ lives. When co-founder Elija Pierson was found dead, the Prophet Mathias was accused of going too far. The jury disagreed.

Rev. Henry Budge - 1859

When the wife of Rev. Henry Budge was found with her throat cut, suicide was suspected, but soon suspicion fell on the Reverend. Despite compelling evidence against him, Reverend Budge was acquitted.

Rev. John S. Glendenning - 1874

Church organist Mary Pomeroy was seduced and abandoned by her pastor, Rev. John Glendenning. She died soon after giving birth to his child. Though not technically a murderer, Glendenning was tried by the Presbyterian Church who found him innocent of all charges.

Rev. Herbert H. Hayden- 1886

Rev. Herbert Hayden was accused of stabbing and poisoning Mary Stannard, a young housekeeper employed by his wife. Many  believed that he had seduced and impregnated her. He denied it all and was released after a hung jury.

Theo Durrant - 1895

Mild-mannered Theo Durrant was the superintendent of Sunday school at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco. But Theo had a dark side—he murdered and mutilated two young women, leaving their remains in the church. "The Demon of the Belfry" was convicted. 


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