Have you ever wondered when sleepwalking became a legit excuse for murder? Have you ever wondered who first used the defense AND got away with it?
This week the ONUC gals discuss a doctor turned body snatcher turned famous college professor, the topic of continuous consent, and the first time sleepwalking was used as a defense in a murder trial.
Trigger Warning Level: Low
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Sources: Medium, Murder by Gaslight, Smithsonian Magazine, Sleep Forensic Medicine, and Historical Ipswich
You are listening to one nation under crime, a historical chronological, true crime podcast. Each week we go through our nation's history and discuss one case from each year, starting in 1800. I'm Caitlin. And I'm Leah, I'm gonna have to figure out something new for that intro. Now that we're going to do two cases per year and even maybe sometimes, maybe more than one. Yeah. So I gotta, I gotta figure that out. You know, I don't have anything else to do in your Spare time. Yeah, yeah. That, that thing, I don't know what that is.
So yeah, today we have a pretty interesting Case. Interesting. If you are one of the lucky ones that has actually paid attention to the title of this case, then you also know what's going on. I Don't know. That's, that's common hater. I'm not wrong. Anyways. Heifer Har sources for this week Murder by Gaslight. Oh, that is one actually the second one Name. We also have medium Smithsonian magazine sleep forensic medicine, which will give you a little bit of a insight into what we're going to discuss and historical Ipswich.
So As a place, right? Yes. Look at me. Yes. Some see, I'm not completely useless. Well Sure. Thank you. I said, thank you. Thank you. Hesitate. Well, you know, our births in 1845 are what we're going to go into first, since we covered the events last episode. So like I said, I'm going to try and each episode that we do have where we have kind of births and deaths of that year, I'm going to pull out one that's interesting and do a little bit more of a bio on that person, just because there's a lot of interesting people out there is what I will Say there are.
And our first one. Wow. Oh, so yes. So our first birth for this year, August 21st William Healy doll, he's a naturalist Malik hydrologist. Well, The study of MULU SCA mollusks, Ah, And one of the earliest scientific explorers of the interior of Alaska Blurry. Again, very interesting, very cold. He was a June 13th.
This is a name. It's all I'm going to say. I'm ready. She's also very interesting as well, but she's not the one that we're going to do a bio on June 13th. Can I do these in reverse order? Mary? You Femia oh Yeah. German. Her, she went by Effie Effie. She's a stage actress from Augusta, Georgia. And she was performing in Aladdin at Grover's theater in DC on the night that Lincoln was assassinated, Lincoln was invited to the performance and he promised to attend, but went to Ford's theater instead He made a poor choice.
And that was oh yeah. And this part when John Wilkes booth was shot, a picture of Effie was in his pocket. Oh Yes. And she was a Gemini. I think it Would have gone by Effie as well. Yeah, I think so. Well, she could've gone by Mary Nina that stupidity to Pedestrian. I mean, she was performing in a Latin, so Not, not the cartoon that we Know, not that one. So then our deaths in 1845, March 18, I'm gonna see if you, if you know, oh no, this person is You should, if you, if you don't know I'm going to be real disappointed.
Oh No, John Chapman, no, It doesn't ring a bell, but I'll probably feel dumb when she tells me Johnny Appleseed, I didn't know Johnny Appleseed. He was a nurseryman and pioneer, who was an American legend as he was alive, due to his kind generous ways. His leadership in conservation and the symbolic importance. He attributed to apples. He introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Ontario, as well as the Northern counties of present day West Virginia.
Do you know that the preschool that all of my nephews attended, they have Johnny Appleseed day and they wear overalls and plaid shirts. And they were a pot on their head because he was known to do that. A lot of schools do that. It's pretty, it's cute. I didn't realize Chatman was his last name. John Johnny ankles, John Chapman. And then This is the person we're going to dive a little deeper into. As you've heard Kayla, the names of some of these people you could have covered any one of them is a small tidbit for this week. This is True.
I mean, I gave you a little bit more on Johnny LLC. There is a reason I covered this one. This one, this one is a lot. This one is no, she's got her evil face on guys. Oh goodness. April 10th, 1845. Dr. Thomas Sule died. Sule He was obviously a doctor. Well, in the title, He was a writer and an academic who gained notoriety for being convicted of body snatching.
So obviously as her mind, he says, I went to the library, metaphorically, The restricted section, the Restricted section obviously is where would be, because honestly, this was just too interesting not to look into and historical Ipswich, which is the website that I found the article for this on. So he was known as like Gray bra being body snitching, Just, He was known as the body snatcher of tobacco perish, Tobacco It's tobacco.
I made sure Like, yeah. Yeah. It was at the old bearing ground in Essex in 1819 that it was discovered that the body of 26 year old Sally Andrews, who died of consumption was missing. Do you know what consumption is? Usually Yeah. Tuberculosis. Yes. To forgive. So why would he get that body? When she gets all like riddled with diseases? Once it was made aware that Sally was missing an investigation uncovered that at least eight other grades had been robbed and the coffins were empty. No, that's worse than the cover being bare. It gets worse.
The ceased missing or ten-year-old boys, Isaac Allan and Samuel Burnham. Yeah. No, that was a Burnham. There is a different one. Isaac Allen and Philip Harlow where the 10 year old boys, as well as 35 year old Mary millet alliteration, 19 year old, William Burnham, 65 year old. I think it's a live show. It's it looks like almost Alicia, but it's E L I S H a. Yeah. Lasha Elisha. That'd be pretty Elisha story. It's what we're going to go with. Cause I like it now. She was 65 and Samuel Burnham was 26 Ma Posting in the newspaper, offered a $500 reward for information leading to the missing bodies.
It did not take long for it to be known that Dr. Thomas Sule was the perpetrator of the crimes. Sewell was a brilliant and promising doctor who was charged with being in possession of a quote unsanctioned corpse, Even though he was very respected and known for ministering to the sick and dying, as well as being a quote, regular attendant of worship in 1815 law made body snatching and grave robbing illegal. I mean, did they have to make that alone? I'm just, I'm just saying Yes. And I'll, I'll get back to it in a second.
I'll get back to It. Just have respect. Yeah. Out. I'll get back and it's, Let's just have her, Despite hiring Daniel Webster and I put yes. That one. Yeah. The albums and a play in high school singing about Mr. Webster. Yes. He hired him as his lawyer, but even despite that Sewell was found guilty on two counts of knowingly and willfully receiving concealing and disposing of the bodies of two of his patients had to Dispose of the body. I don't. Do you want the entire case or do you want a snippet? I mean, I Mean, I'm invested In data.
I wasn't going to pay to look at the court records. So, you know, if you want to do that, go for it. Anyways, he was fined $800 or $18,112 today. And he was ordered to leave the community. Dr. Sewell moved to Washington DC and went on to found the medical school at Colombian college, which is now part of George Washington university. So he was banished from little Podunk town and went on today, see, and, and, and founded the medical school.
Now, did he, did It gets better? It gets better. Did He bought a snatch? It gets better in 1821. He was appointed professor of anatomy in the national medical college and retained the chair for life. Dr. Sewell is best known for eight graphic drawings of quote alcohol disease to stomachs that he prepared in support of the temperance movement of the day. Ironically, Dr. Thomas Sewall died of tuberculosis in 1845 at the age of 58, the same disease Sally Andrews died of who's missing corpse was the cause of his undoing.
And Shabaka I say that is poetic justice. I found it very interesting, but to answer your question. So at this time we talked about it in an earlier episode where people who were sentenced to death would their bodies would be donated to the local school, correct? A lot of times, depending on where they lived, you didn't have bodies donated to you. And at this time, obviously there was not a lot of medical knowledge as far as really anything goes medically. So a lot of times these doctors, whether he physically did it or someone else did is remained to be seen, but a lot of times grave robbers would go, they would dig up a body, they would take it to a doctor.
The doctor would pay them very well for them to do this. And then depending on the doctor, sometimes the corpse would then be put back when their research was done. But this was also a time people were dying of tuberculosis left and right. Like people were dying of all these different things. And so if you notice he took a wide range in age of people. So it is clear that he was doing some type of medical research and that is why they were missing. I mean, And I get that and I understand, I mean, it is Better than the alternate. I understand science.
I understand that, you know? Yeah. You have to, you, I'm Going to have a bending him in any, in any Way. I mean, but I get what he was yelling. I'm just saying let's have it on the up and up. Let's get the, the family's permission. Well, and probably the reason that a lot of people didn't is a lot of people like for religious purposes, think that that's not, which no, but I believe what you want to believe. That's fine. But I will personally, like I would personally rather someone figure out something with me after I'm gone then to just sit there, like I get what I understand his, his end game, but I don't appreciate the means by which he went about.
Yeah. That wasn't great. But anyways, he is our first person that I decided to pull out. I'm surprised with him having that on his record, that he was, It might not have been. Hmm. Those were paper records at the time. That's true. They didn't have at old electronic. No, they didn't have a database for it. She was told to leave the community. And So I have to tell that's True now. And back then you, you walked in and you go, I'm the doctor and they would go, oh, hi doctor, where's your medical license. Where's this To disappear and start it over time too.
Okay. And he just moved to DC and started the medical school. That's now a part of George Washington university. I mean, like I said, I mean, I understand what he was doing. No. Nope. Okay. So onto case this week, October 27th, 1845, I'm calling her Maria. A lot of people at this time, Maria was Mariah, but it's not clear as to when that Mariah Reynolds. Yeah. But it's not clear as to when that like pronunciation fully changed. So I couldn't find if it was Mariah or Maria.
I think they called her Maria based on something in a, in a bit though. So that's why I'm going with Maria. Samaria. Bickford was found dead in a bed, set on fire with her throat cut in Boston's beacon hill. We are in Boston this week. And surprisingly, we've not been here yet. Feeding town, 51 episodes into one. If you one and we've not been here yet, we've been close. So I even put, we've been close, but close, only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Correct? So there's that this case might also sound familiar.
A woman found murdered in a bed set on fire. And no, we haven't covered Maria Bickford yet, but you could be thinking of the girl in the green trip. There you go. Episode 39. It sounded very familiar to me. When you said it, we will see that there is more that connects these two women. Was she beautiful? She was, but they were both sex workers. We all know my thoughts on sex work. They will not change. And if you have questions regarding my stance about it in detail, go back to episode 39 on Helen Jewett or episode 25 entitled the sheriffs mistress, just to recap, that'll cover it.
There are levels of sex work ranging from forced and survival to those who have a desire to work in the industry. And I've said it before, I will forever be an advocate for those who need to get out and do not have a way to get out. Yes. And I will always be supportive of those who decide to safely choose that as a profession of their line of work. That is your, that is, as I put the key here is desire, consent and something we've not discussed, which I just felt was good to put a few sentences in here, continuous consent. This is a newer topic that a lot of people are now discussing.
And as I was looking into certain things that this concept came up and I just thought that this was a really good place to put it as it's now becoming part of, you know, our regular world that we live in this doesn't simply apply to sex work. This is also same for any knee, any romantic relationship, any relationship in general, not even romantic while no is a full sentence. Yes, it is. Yes is not a full sentence. I kind of liken it to when someone is being questioned by the police.
So by law, you can be questioned by the police until you express the need to speak with a lawyer and to not answer any further questions, right? So the same goes for consent. And this is the best way to explain it to anybody who is wondering exactly what the concept is behind this. You can consent to something, but the second that consent is revoked, or it is clear that the consent has not continued such as intoxication. Anything like that, if it is clear that this up to a point. Yeah. Or if it is, it is clear that you cannot continue to consent to something.
Everything stops just like by law. It should. When you're talking to the police, when you say, I need an attorney done, you're not there to answer any more questions you are in some situation. And you say, I'm not comfortable with that. Or you cannot continue to consent to what is going on. Everything stops. It stops period. There's so many times that we hear in the media today about well cases where girls are assaulted on a college campus is very common. And they'll say, well, she said it was fine.
Okay. But one was she in the correct state of mind, which I agree, you know, both people probably are not at the time. However, continued consent is always the key to these things. And I think that that's something that also needs to be taught a lot more. That's not taught. I agree because yes, you know, you can tell someone no, and that is a full sentence, but people also need to understand that. Yes. Doesn't mean eternally. Yes. Right. There is a line. And once that line is crossed, it's crossed. And so that was, I put, thank you for coming to my Ted talk.
I will not be taking any further questions, comments or snide remarks at this time, moving on Boston is officially entitled the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And it is the 24th most populated city in the country. The city is on my bucket list. And while I am a red Sox fan, I would love to go to Fenway park. Yeah, That'd be cool. I should put grip drives. The city itself covers roughly 48 square miles with a population in 2020 of 646,647.
I found that number slightly frustrating. It couldn't, you couldn't have just said 6, 4, 6, 6. I mean, that would have made you very happy on a that would've made you very, very happy on it. Yes, it would have an it didn't. So anyways, how dare they it's really rude. Honestly, Boston secured its spot as the most populated city in new England. Boston is a, one of the oldest municipalities in the United States founded on the Shaw mutt peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers. It was the scene of several events in the American revolution, such as tea party, the Boston massacre.
And I put chaos and bloodshed already haunt us. And honestly, you shouldn't even talk. And what about Boston? Look at the cost and all that we've lost. And you want to talk about Congress, this Congress by me eloquently, then you anyhow moving range. Yes. It continued because then I put the Boston tea party and I put it. You cry and your tea, which you hurled into the sea. When you see me go by, I couldn't, that was the last one. That was the rest of them. I couldn't couldn't. There was also the battle of bunker hill and the siege of Boston upon America's independence from great Britain.
The city continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture Boston much like Philadelphia, as we have learned claims many firsts, including the first United States public park, which is Boston common, the first public or state school, which is the Boston Latin school, the first subway system, Treemont street, subway, and of that the first large public library, which is the Boston public library today, Boston is a thriving center of scientific research. The Boston area, as many colleges and universities make it a world leader in higher education, including law, medicine, engineering, and business.
And the city is considered to be a global pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship with nearly 5,000 startup companies. Wow. And I put shout out to Austin, Texas as well. Some of the most renowned and highly ranked universities in the world are near Boston. Three universities with a major presence in the city are Harvard, MIT and Tufts university, which Is gonna say, Well, we're Harvard is Harvard. They're fine. They pay enough money to forget about it.
And that they are just outside of Boston in the cities of Cambridge and Somerville known as the brain power triangle. It's just interesting. So <inaudible> Belong there. Boston university or B U as it's known, I was founded in 1839 and was actually originally located in Vermont before moving to Boston in 1867. What's The original name. I didn't see that part. It just said that it was there before. So Yeah, I mean, I was just hoping it wasn't Boston college originally from Vermont. It could have been who knows. Okay.
In 1876, B you professor Alexander Graham bell invented the telephone in a BU lab. Harvard is the nation's oldest Institute of higher education. And as centered across the Charles river in Cambridge, though, the majority of its landholdings and a substantial amount of its educational activities actually are in Boston. Let's see. In the early 18 hundreds, William tutor wrote that Boston was quote, perhaps the most perfect and certainly the best regulated democracy that ever existed. There is something so impossible in the immortal fame of Athens, that the very name, it makes everything modern, shrink from comparison.
But since the days of that glorious city, I know of none that has approached so near in some points distant as it may be from that illustrious model. So Boston is apparently better than Athens Greece. Well, now That's what they said this yeah, there there's a list coming up. It's pretty extensive. So you'll, you guys will have to stick with me. I hope you mentioned my favorite thing about Boston, because if you don't have to shout it out, we'll see I'm being patient, but, And the 19th century, Ralph Waldo, Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, James Russell, Lowell, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow all roped in Boston.
I mean, that's a, that is a list. That's a, who's who, That's a list. This next list is even longer. We're about to get to it. Some consider the old corner bookstore to be quote the cradle of American literature. This is the place where these writers met and where the Atlantic monthly was first published. The city is also home to several art museums and galleries, including the museum of fine arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, which is known for his robbery in 1990 on St. Patrick's day weekend and the 2021 Netflix docu series. This is a robbery, the world's biggest art heist.
Ooh, it is so interesting. And this place is gorgeous. I bet it was, it's a very busy place on St. Patrick's day weekend. No, I mean, Thought was at the parade. Yeah. If you've not seen it, it truly is so good. Cause I mean like the man in the sea was one of the big, like the big portrait that you know of gone. Like, and it's so interesting because there were certain rules that Isabella Stewart Gardner put in place when she created the museum that basically, if anything were to change, then the museum was going to change hands.
So they have the empty frames on the walls because it's not supposed to change. And it's insane. Like, so anyways, go watch it. It's on Netflix. It's a very, very good docu series. It's like four episodes, but it's still unsolved and they've still never recovered the paintings Ever Known. So yeah, there's that Boston common, which we discussed before the first public park is near the financial district and beacon hill, which is where our story takes place today. It is the oldest public park in the United States, along with the adjacent Boston public garden. It is part of the Emerald necklace, which is a string of parks designed by Frederick law Olmsted.
The one who designed our campus And central And central park Talented Dude. I mean, as always a few video games have also used Boston as a backdrop in settings, such as Assassin's creed three published in 2012, very good game and fallout four also really good, which came out in 2015. I'll take your word for It. Now, a few famous names that you might know from Boston are Waiting for. I literally think I might've put them on. I know there's somewhere near the middle anyways, I'm going to name them off And we're not going to do that.
We have actors, Ben and Casey Affleck, Steve Carell, Misha Collins. Who's from supernatural and he must supernatural fans out there. Matt Damon, Chris Evans, captain America, Clark Gregg, who was agent Colson on Marvel agents of shield. He was very good actor. He was also in the new adventures of old Christine. Very good actor, Matt LeBlanc. I love Him. I know James Spader. Who's blacklist and mark Walberg. I know Him. Yeah. We discussed them before. He's he can be problematic. Actresses. Jennifer Coolidge didn't know that Gina Davis, Mindy Kayling Ellen Palm PEO.
And then we have the bands That I put them last in the Senate. We have Arrowsmith. Hi. The two that I put above them are much better than them. I'm sorry. You can't. You can't know, but I do love Arrowsmith. Arrowsmith of course, Boston, the band. Yes. One of my favorite bands of all time, they sing my favorite song of all time. Peace of mind. Anyways, my dad loved Boston. I love Boston great band and say new kids on the boat.
Favorite look, they were my first concert. They were amazing. And my other two Bessies I have other friends besides Kayla. I know your shot. We went to Nashville a few years ago and we saw them with salt and pepper and naughty by nature and Tiffany and David Gibson y'all it was amazing. It was great. They still got the right stuff. We also have writers. Louisa may Alcott, Ralph Waldo, Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe. We've mentioned him literally in the last four episodes. So, you know, Nevermore. Then we have crime bosses. Oh no, trust me.
He comes up again. And the next step I was like, dear, gosh, you cannot get away from it. We have crime boss, James Whitey. Boldger everybody knows who he is. Wrestler John Siena, founder of general motors, William C Durant, Benjamin Franklin ever heard of him. Thanks. So Former basketball player, Kevin Garnett, John F. Kennedy ever heard of him, heard of him former late night, host Jay Leno heard of him. Paul Revere ever heard In my children. And you shall hear Artists.
Norman Rockwell's singer, Donna, summer activists, Malcolm X and musician, Rob zombie. They are all from Boston. A lot Of people from Boston. That's not even the entire list. No, not even close. There's an entire Wikipedia page. I had to sort through so many people. Cause I know there. I mean, it's insane how many there were so very cool. This is another episode where we cover a first and in true Kayla form. I know how to bury a lead. This week's case is the first time sleep walking was used as a defense for murder or most commonly it is referred to as America's first known sleep, walking killer.
Nice. But was it sleep walking or merely a clever defense? That's pretty smart. It is not. And I'll just say that the attorney that put this forward as the defense Never lived it down and Well-respected still To this day. It is a, it's not good. So yeah. It's yeah. All right. Maria Bickford was born, forgot about taking some of these notes was born Mary and done.
And I put, yes, I'm just now realizing we had Marianne Wyatt last week. And this is the first time in our podcast that we were covering two cases in one year and both victims are named Marianne. Nice. Did she have a friend named Wanda? She didn't that I know of. No Alsina though. Okay. No else. I mean sad, but you know, I understand anyhow, Maria was born in bath, Maine and moved to Bangor as a teen. When she was only 16, she married James Bickford. The couple were together for three years in the couple had one child who unfortunately died in infancy in 1842 during this time or he, his friends and family came to comfort her and they convinced her to come and visit them in Boston.
Maria was immediately taken by the city. She loves the hustle and bustle of the streets and the fashion, which was wildly different from back at home. The thought of going back to her small home with James was too much to bear. And she told James that she wanted to move to Boston. James said quote, while in the city, she appeared delighted with everything she saw. And on her return home expressed a desire to reside permanently in Boston. She was dissatisfied with her humble condition. Then according to James Maria left for Boston again, and this time she would not return.
Once Maria arrived. She sent a note for James, which said, quote, I cannot let you know where I am for the people where I board do not know that I've got a husband, James, I feel very unsteady and I will consent to live with you and to keep house. But you must consent for me to have my Liberty. Oh, James went to Boston immediately when he receives the note. But once he arrived, he saw Maria walking into a brothel and it's assumed that he just Left Later. James said of Maria quote, heir. She became acquainted with this man. She was one of the most virtuous of her sex, but his insinuating plausibility quickly drew her into a Whirlpool of vice.
It was all the man's fault. Of course I have. Anyways, I have feelings. But anyways, this man that James was referring to was Albert Tarell. Albert was a very wealthy man and used his influence to charm Maria. He was also married with two children at the time. Albert was the son of a prominent shoe manufacturer and his father also served in the Massachusetts state legislature for 12 years. Albert inherited $8,000. Once his father died and with only a year and a half, he spent all of it on Maria, just for reference that's $303,000 today in a year and a half.
He spent it on Maria. Wow. While he had a wife and two kids, I mean, you know, I spend some money on me, but yeah. Wow. At the time Maria met Albert, she was working in several brothels in the area and the two fell for one another Working at several Brothels, separate. That's what it said. So I don't know. I didn't know. You could do that Either, but You remain, obviously I'm not an expert, I Guess you're an independent contractor. So I guess you just kind of work where you want to work. I don't know. I mean, I don't know all the ins and outs. I don't either, but that's what I'm guessing. So yes, they began traveling with one another calling one, another husband and wife, while also changing their names in each town that they arrived at.
Albert bought her what ever she desired. And when they traveled, they stayed in only the best hotels. They rented a furnished house in Boston, on Cedar lane in beacon hill that Maria ran as a quote house of, I believe it's an asset nation as sign Asian. Yeah. It's a fancy term for a fancy brothel. So she ran it under the name, Maria Welsh. During this time, Maria wrote to a friend and main that Albert was abusing her and she wanted to get away from him. However, Maria also wants confided in a fellow boarder.
She just threw this out there that she enjoyed coralling with Albert because they had quote such a good time making up. Mm. Cause nothing like toxicity and Emmy. I mean, got to love it. Their arguments, all Allegedly allegedly Stemmed from the fact that Maria continued sex work and Albert was displeased, even though he was paying for the house, she ran as a brothel and it appears, he was well aware of the arrangement beforehand. And he was paying For the house and he had spent all the money.
So They need money coming in. I Would think so. But that's just, Again, I'm don't know the ins and outs of the business And I'm just trying to make sense of the situation. Yeah. Let's see. I lost my spot. We're trying to make sense of situation. Yes. Oh, in June of 1845, Albert and Maria had seemingly one last argument and Albert left then much to Albert chagrin. He was arrested on charges Of adult term rape. Well, it may, he couldn't say it wasn't happening.
And it was on September 29th of the same exact year of 1845 that he was arrested. He was in indicted and the press described the offenses against him as quote some in delicacies with a young woman and also included that Albert had Alluded arrest Four Weeks In delicacy. Yes. The prosecutor's office was bombarded by letters, requesting a delay in the proceedings of the adultery trial. The letters were from friends, relatives, and even Albert's Wife Who said he might be able to be reformed. I'm so sorry if that were me and them on the situation, I'd be like, Hmm.
You just go ahead and lock him up and let me talk to him at, yeah, give us a minute. You want it to get even better? Oh, gorilla murder. The letter worked and the trial was postponed for six months. They worked. But however, You know that as soon as Albert posted bail, he ran back to Maria at the house on Cedar lane. OMA. I mean, I mean, for real, I have no words. I mean, I love my husband and I really don't like the doubt be in this situation, but I'm just saying yeah, On October 26th, Albert trawl was seen with Maria Bickford at the boarding house, the owners of the house.
So they were renting the house as a whole, but the owners of the house lived next door. So they were well Aware of what was going on. Oh, they were fine. Well look, they had That house rented. They I'm sure they had steady rent coming in and it was in cash. And they were like, you know what? It's a fancy brothel. Solar's up. I mean, and, and the, they knew that's been, probably was like, you know, I'm not talking a bit of the rent if you let me come by. I mean, Yeah. So the owners of the house, Joel Lawrence and his wife saw the couple arguing on that day, around four 30, the next morning, the Lawrence has heard a shriek and a thud As never good.
Then heard someone rushing down the stairs and out the door. When they went to investigate, they found Maria Bickford on the floor. Sorry for, if you don't want to hear this, skip forward maybe 10 seconds and you should be good. She lay on her back and her nightgown nearly decapitated, Her neck wound measuring six inches long and three inches deep. Wow. The room was clogged with smoke and someone had set fire to the bed and set fire to two other locations in the room. A blood-stained razor was found at the foot of the bed.
The victim's hair was singed. Her skin charred. Part of one ear was split, open and missing an earring. A man's vest and Cain were spattered with blood Albert who had been seen with the victim earlier that night was nowhere to be found. Wow. One witness spotted him bargaining with a stable keeper saying quote. He was in a scrape and had to get away. He drove south to the house of some relatives who hit him from the police and gave him money to flee the state. The following day, he headed north into Canada and wrote to his family from Montreal telling them of his plans to set sail to Liverpool.
Unfortunately for him, bad weather forced the crew to turn back. And instead he boarded a ship in New York city bound for new Orleans authorities in Louisiana had been tipped off about a fugitive headed their way. And they arrested Albert on December 5th while he was still on The ship. Well, good. Yeah. Albert was a fugitive public opinion in Boston, surprisingly sided with Maria and everyone was anxious for the capture of her killer while Surprisingly, Because she was a sex worker and it was super well known, But I guess so Because people are garbage by the time of the trial, the public had turned against the victim.
Maria, the story then turned into Maria, being an evil seductress who took advantage of Albert. The evidence against Albert was extremely circumstantial, but also extremely strong. However, when his family hired a high powered defense team led by former us Senator Rufus ciao Loved the name, Rufus. It became obvious that facts alone would not decide the case. Chop had made quite a name for himself in the legal profession and was taught by none other. And I put, we talked about him at the top of this episode and no it wasn't planned Daniel Webster On the first day Of the trial, the Prosecution called numerous witnesses to help establish a strong circumstantial case against Albert, But certain facts in the testimonies left room.
For doubt, the coroner's physician conceded that Maria's neck wound could have been self-inflicted I put hello L okay. How? Yes, no, no. The oddest recollection came from Albert's brother-in-law Nathaniel Bailey. Who said that when Albert arrived, he claimed to be fleeing from the adultery incident when Bailey informed him of the murder, Albert seemed genuinely shocked and I put, okay, sure. Jan Shout Aloud. One of his junior councils to deliver the opening arguments for the defense. He began by tearing down Maria's character, repeating that possibly she cut her own throat and positing that suicide was quote almost the natural Death of Persons of Character.
You know, my blood was boiling. Then furthermore, Albert had been an honorable and upstanding gentlemen until he met Maria. Oh no gain juror jam Counsel states quote. She had succeeded in a wonderful manner and ensnaring the prisoner. His love for her was passing the love ordinary born by men for women. She, She, For a long time had him spellbound by Her deprived And loved Vicious art. The next piece of his elaborate defense introduced the issue Of Sleepwalking.
Here we go. Counsel said, quote, Alexander, the great pin. The battle in his sleep Law Fontane wrote some of his best verses while in the same unconscious state Coniac made calculations. Even Franklin was known to have arosen finished in his sleep, a work that he had projected before going to bed. But Did they really Evidence Will be produced to show that it has pleased almighty God to afflict the prisoner with the species of mental derangement. You guys can't see, but I'm I'm, I'm banging my head on the microphone quite Quietly. So I don't have to edit it. Yes, yes. Oh my goodness.
One by one Albert's family and friends were counted. Strange ways. He behaved while allegedly sleeping. He began sleepwalking at the age of six and the incidences had increased in frequency and severity. As he got older, he forcibly grabbed his brother, pulled down curtains and smashed windows and even yanked a cousin out of bed, threatening him with a knife. While in the state, he also spoke in a shrill trembling voice. Their testimonies were corroborated by Walter Channing, who was the Dean of Harvard medical school who testified that a person in a Did not do a pronunciation for this word.
I was going to say, it must be a big word. Somnambulistic state sleepwalking could dress himself, commit a murder, set a fire and make an escape. That's a whole lot though. Yeah. It's it's a bit, it's a bit much, honestly, defense attorney child was set to speak on the fourth day, spectators clamored outside of the courthouse to hear what he had to say. And considering the Boston daily mail described him as the quote, great galvanic battery of human oratory.
It's not a surprise to see why in his speech. He said, quote, how far does the testimony lead? You did a human being. See the prisoner. Strike the blow. No. Did any human being see him in that house after nine o'clock the previous evening? No. Did any human beings see him run from the house? No. Did any human beings see him with a drop of blood upon his hands? No. Can anyone say that on that night he was not laboring under a disease to which he was subject from his youth? No.
Has he ever made a confession of the deed to friend or thief taker? Not one word. His Speech lasted Six hours During this chat focused on the issue of why did I put this word in here again? Somnambulism Sleepwalking Stressed. The 12 witnesses had testified to his client's strange condition without challenge or disproof he argued again.
Somnambulism sure explains the killing without a motive. Premeditated murder does not. In old Rome, it was always practiced to bestow a civic reef on him who saved a citizens life, a wreath to which all the laurels of Caesar were boat weeds. Do your duty today, jury. And you may earn that wreath yourself. Oh, Ma he got D Oh six hours. You got to find something amazing. Mean anyways, the jury deliberated for only two hours and returned a verdict of not guilty.
That is the other part that is common with Helen Jewett's case spectators leapt to their feet and applauded. While Albert began to sob. It's good to note here that this was the first display of emotion. The entire trial. After Albert sent a letter to his defense attorney, this cracks me up. He sent a letter after the trial to Rufus ciao, asking him to refund half of his legal fees on the grounds that it had been too easy to persuade the jury. Albert still had to stand trial for arson, which was a capital crime in 1846 using similar arguments, ciao one Albert and acquittal on this charge as well.
Albert pleaded no contest and the charges of adultery and last a vicious cohabitation, but the judge would not dismiss them. Albert was sentenced to three years hard labor in the state prison. Following the acquittal, Rufus chow was bombarded by criminal defendants, begging for his services child stopped his private practice and went on to become Massachusetts attorney general Word. However ciao was never able to escape the reputation of introducing the sleepwalking defense Mercy. Even after his Death, He was criticized by Wendell Phillips as the lawyer who quote made it safe to murder.
I mean, however, a case study from sleep forensic medicine in regards to this specific case, they did a case study on this case and they specifically said, quote, our current knowledge about parasomnia suggest Terrell's behavior at the scene of the crime was incompatible with sleepwalking, specifically, setting fire to the room, to cover up the crime, fleeing the scene and going into hiding or inconsistent behaviors in today's courtroom. The outcome would most likely be different.
I'm so Shaw. And that is the case of America's first sleepwalking killer. That is crazy. I mean, and the parallels to Helen Jewett are like, Wow. As I was reading through it, I was like, This sounds so familiar. It sounds so familiar. I mean, in that case, like, I mean that guy ran down, like ran down the stairs, ran out the back door, set the bed on fire. He also killed her in a similar manner. He also got away with murder. Like, Yeah, It was just like Crazy Copy and paste the cases. I mean, they had close relationships before the women were murdered. Like there were arguments.
They had like arguments back and forth. I mean, it is just, the parallels are crazy, but The fact that they, they didn't, They did not convict him because sleepwalking was his defense And saying, I have witnessed my little brother's sleepwalking before he had to get to the bathroom. And he came to the garbage can in the living room. We direct them to the right place. Yeah. That's going to the bathroom. That's not. And I do Some setting fire. I do agree the, the guilt, the guilt actions is what I'll say after the murder.
Exactly What lead me to believe like they did that. This was not exactly. This was not that. So yeah. Super interesting case for this week. I mean just Wow. Crazy is all I Can say Unfair. And I mean, not attorney was right. Child made it safe to murder, like, and it's like, yeah, you're right. He did like it. He made it to where that could be a defense, which is insane. So anyways, we have a website we do where you can find any and all. And when you see information you're looking for, you should know where to find us now on all social media.
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We will see you here. Same time, different crime, different year, different year. That's right. Remove it next week. And remember there isn't always Liberty and justice for all. Especially if sleepwalking is used as your defense, correct. Goodbye.