Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hall-Mills Murders

Identification

The letters that had been torn up and scattered between the corpses were written in pencil by a woman with wildly romantic sentiments. She promised her love to him forever, and said things like, "Oh, honey, I am fiery today. Burning, flaming love."

Reverend Hall
Reverend Hall
Most of the people in Reverend Halls parish knew before it was made official who the unidentified woman was: Mrs. Eleanor R. Mills, 34, a choir singer and wife to James Mills. Their affair had been rather obvious over the past four years.

The reverend had grown up in Brooklyn, getting his theological degree in Manhattan. (Although they called him Dr., he had no doctoral degree.) He had gone from New York to Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and finally to St. Johns in New Brunswick. In 1911, he had married Frances Stevens, a woman of wealth, who was seven years older than him.

Eleanor Mills
Eleanor Mills
Eleanor Mills corpse was bereft of personal papers or markings of any kind. The person who finally identified her was a reporter, Frank M. Diener, of the Daily Home News. He knew her and added that her husband was a school janitor. They had two children, Charlotte, 16, and Daniel, 12. Small, slender, and pretty, Eleanor had a passionate soul that was not satisfied by the frugal way she was forced to live with her unassuming husband, who was a decade older.

The authorities believed this case would be quickly solved, but they had no idea of the many characters and massive number of witnesses who were destined to come forward.

 

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