“The body was found in pieces, first the torso and arms in the East River, then the legs in some blueberry bushes in Harlem, as the Detectives (and reporters) investigate they end up out in Long Island, where there is water runoff where there shouldn’t be any and the ducks are coming out of the water with red on their feathers.
The press of the day jumped all over this, the reporters were doing as much investigating as the police and there was a fierce rivalry between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, one with an established but failing newspaper and the other his former protegee and becoming more popular. The reporters, followed leads, staked out residences. Commandeered pay phones, offered rewards for evidence found, at times helping and at times trampling over crime scenes and contaminating them.
Once the body was identified, the police were able to round up suspects, when two were finally brought to trial, the papers once again turned it into a circus.
This book has a great synopsis of the crime and life in the late 1800s in New York. We get a brief overview of the corruption of that time, also the dedication of the police officers and the forensics of the time. The author details the problems the prosecution had, the forensic scientist rumored to be attempting to poison his wife, the less than positive identification of the corpse, the defense claiming that the man their clients were accused of killing wasn’t even dead. The head was never found, and this was before anyone had even heard of DNA. They hadn’t even been convinced that fingerprints were a valid means of identification.
Still this is an extremely interesting book even with the extensive trial coverage. I would definitely recommend it.”