“She’s a liar, she’s a liar”
Edward Wheeler Hall was the chubby, balding, 41-year-old Episcopal minister of the Church of St John the Evangelist in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was having an affair with the married lead soprano of his choir Eleanor Mills, 34, the wife of the church sexton.
Both lovers left their homes at 7.30pm on 14 September 1922 — Mrs Mills from 49 Carmen Street, Reverend Hall from 23 Nichol Avenue — for an assignation. Two days later Raymond Schneider, 23, and his girlfriend Pearl Bahmer, 15, came across two people they initially thought were having sex under a crab-apple tree. Then they noticed that both had been shot in the head and the woman’s throat was cut from ear to ear and her tongue had been removed. Scattered around were love letters, written by Mrs Mills to the clergyman.
Letters written by the Reverend Hall to Mrs Mills were later sold to newspapers by James Mills, the 45-year-old cuckolded husband, for $500. Frances Hall, the reverend’s wife, was phenomenally wealthy and had even paid for an operation for Mrs Mills — unaware of her husband’s betrayal.
The police were no nearer solving the case when Jane Gibson, aka Easton, came forward to say that she had seen the murders. Known as the “Pig Woman” because she was a hog farmer, she said that she had been riding her mule Jenny in search of poachers when she witnessed the crime. However, on 27 November 1922 a grand jury failed to indict anyone for the killings. The case rested until 28 July 1926 when the police arrested Frances Hall. On 3 November 1926 Mrs Hall and her brothers Henry and Willie went on trial in Somerville, New Jersey, for double murder.
A star — if somewhat dramatic — witness was the Pig Woman who, suffering from cancer, was wheeled into court in a bed whence she gave her evidence. Despite her illness and a passage of four years, the Pig Woman gave detailed testimony, all the time her mother chanting, “She’s a liar, she’s a liar.” However, her memory was called into question as, when asked about her numerous husbands, the Pig Woman could not even remember all their names. After deliberating for four and a half hours, the jury returned not guilty verdicts for all three defendants on 3 December 1926.
De Russey’s Lane, Franklin Township, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
Thursday 14 September 1922
Mrs Hall continued to attend her husband’s church. She never remarried and died in December 1942. Her brother Willie died the same month and Henry died on 3 December 1939. The Pig Woman lived until 7 February 1930.