Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hall-Mills Murders

An Arrest

Mrs. Hall was entertaining when the police cars pulled up. Willie came to the door and was ordered to get into the car. He was taken to the Somerset County Court House for interrogation.

Some time later, Mrs. Hall then noticed that Willie was missing and reported this to the police. While a half dozen men searched for him, he was returned home. Pfeiffer spoke out strongly against such tactics.

Governor Edwards then sent Colonel Schwartzkopf (Norman Schwartzkopf's father who would be in charge of the Lindbergh case ten years hence) from Trenton to New Brunswick to get this case moving.

On Sunday, October 8, four people were brought in for questioning: the couple who had found the bodies and two friends of Schneiders, Clifford Hayes and Leon Kaufman.

Kaufman, 16, had some interesting things to say. On September 14th, he had met Schneider and Hayes on George Street at 10:30. Hayes had a gun. Pearl was with another man and they disappeared. After searching for them, the other boys walked around. Kaufman left them around eleven and went home.

Pearl said the "other man" was her father, walking off a drunk. They had been followed and abused by the three boys.

On October 9th, a statement was issued to the press that Clifford Hayes was being charged with the murders, based on a signed statement made by Schneider. It was a case of mistaken identity. He had thought the couple to be Pearl and her companion.

This explanation failed to account for many things, such as why the womans throat was cut, why the lover letters were torn and scattered, and why the corpses were posed.

Beekman was certain they had the killer, but Stricker was not. He believed the victims families knew more than they were saying.

Shortly thereafter, Pearl Bahmers father, jailed for incest, claimed that Schneider was the killer. Then Pearl was jailed for incorrigibility.

Soon Schneider confessed to having lied, and the first solid suspect was turned loose.

Soon after, two bloodstained handkerchiefs were turned in to the police. One had no identifying marks, but the other was a womans handkerchief, initialed in one corner with the letter S. Another discovery, this one by Charlotte Mills, was a package of love letters from Hall to Eleanor, and Halls diary. Mills immediately sold these for $500 to the New York American.

Interrogations were set up for Mrs. Hall, her brothers, and Charlotte Mills. Henry Stevens, the older brother, admitted that the handkerchief was the S on it was his. Mrs. Hall was asked to don the coat she had worn the early morning of September 15th and to stand for the scrutiny of a strange, unnamed woman. No arrests were made.

Dr. John Anderson released an analysis of the soil from beneath the bodies, concluding that Mrs. Mills had been shot before her throat was cut, and that the couple was murdered where they were found.

Then Beekman said hed found a witness who had seen three men and one woman murder Hall and Mills that night. Striker denied that there had been any eyewitnesses.

Finally the state took over. Justice Parker of the New Jersey Supreme Court claimed jurisdiction. He deputized William A. Mott as Deputy Attorney General in special charge. His top investigator was James F. Mason, and they set up headquarters in Somerville, NJ.

Then a chauffeur, Frank Csister, came forward to say that neither Beekman nor Stricker had questioned him about what hed reported seeing on Thursday night, September 14th: two cars parked on or near Easton Avenue. Neither had license plates and both were unlit except for taillights. This report revived rumors of Klan involvement. Two letters to Charlottes lawyer seemed to confirm this possibility.

Then the identity of the anonymous eyewitness was revealed: Jane Gibson, better known as the Pig Woman. What she had to say would amaze everyone.

 

 

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