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Dr. Abner Baker

In September 1845, in a small town in Kentucky, Dr. Abner Baker was arrested for the murder of his brother-in-law Daniel Bates. At trial, the defense argued that Baker suffered from “monomania”, a partial derangement which manifested itself in obsessive and irrational suspicion. Baker was tormented by the belief that his wife had had many sexual encounters, including affairs with her uncles and a reverend when she was nine years old, and more recently with Daniel Bates. The court rejected Baker’s insanity plea—because he “knew right from wrong” (the “McNaughtan rule”)—and found him guilty. In prison, Baker attempted to slit his own wrists, but survived and was executed.


The frontispiece and titlepage of Life and trial of Dr. Abner Baker, Jr. The frontispiece has a diagram of the jail and the courthouse.Life and trial of Dr. Abner Baker, Jr. (a monomaniac) who was executed October 3, 1845, for the alleged murder of his brother-in-law, Daniel Bates; including letters and petitions in favor of a pardon, and narrative of the circumstances attending his execution, etc. etc. Author: C.W. Crozier & A.R. M'Kee. 152 pp. (Louisville, KY, 1846).

NLM Unique ID: 55210370R
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Dr. John Webster

The 1849 murder of the wealthy and prominent Dr. George Parkman was the subject of many pamphlets. Dr. John Webster, a chemistry professor at Harvard Medical College, borrowed money from Parkman and couldn’t pay it back. Parkman went missing and was last seen entering the College for an appointment with Webster. The chief witness in the case, Ephraim Littlefield, a janitor, lived next to Webster’s laboratory and noticed that Webster was making numerous trips to the furnace of the dissecting laboratory. Littlefield began to chisel away at the wall near Webster’s lab and tunneled into a privy, which emptied into a pit. After a few days, he broke through a wall, and found a dismembered thigh and the lower part of a leg. Further investigation turned up a bone fragment in the dissecting lab furnace, as well as a jaw bone with teeth, a button and coins. A chest was later found which contained a thigh stuffed in a torso that was missing a heart and other organs. Parkman’s brother-in-law identified the body by its extreme hairiness and at trial, a dentist identified the fake teeth he had made for Parkman. Medical experts laid out the body parts and estimated the height to be 5’10”—Parkman’s height. Webster was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.


The titlepage of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman, featuring a head and shoulders, right pose portrait of John Webster.websterpanel Page 14 of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman, detailing a section of trial transcript. At the bottom of the page is an engraving of the remains found in the medical college which consists of five large pieces of a body. Pages 10 and 11 of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman. Page 10 has an engraving of the medical college, while page 11 has the plan of the ground floor at the top of the page and a section of the trial transcript below it. Page 18 of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman. In the middle of the page are four small engravings of dental bridges from Dr. Parkman's mouth. An full length left pose engraving of the correct likeness of Dr. Parkman as last seen previous to the murder. Page 21 of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman. It features an engraving of the restoration of the full length left pose of Dr. Parkman's  skeleton. Designed by Rowse from a sketch Dr. Jeffries Wyman, and engraved by Taylor and Adams.  Below the skeleton are fragments of the inside right half of the lower jaw. Page 74 of Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman. In the middle of the page which is a section of trial transcript is an engraving of the view of the interior of Professor Webster's cell. On the top portion of the page is a head and shoullders, left pose engraving of Ephraim Littlefield. On the bottom portion of the page is an engraving of the articles found in the laboratory, a tea-chest, bowie knife, Turkish Yatagan, sledge-hammer, hatchet and three large fish hooks. Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the murder of Doctor George Parkman. Reported exclusively for the N.Y. Daily Globe... 76 pp. (New York, 1850).

NLM Unique ID: 28511780R
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