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A Sensational Crime and Trial that Confronted Racism Sexism and Privilege as America Took to the World Stage On the foggy cold morning of February 1 1896 a boy came upon what he thought was a pile of clothes It was soon discovered to be the headless body of a young woman brutally butchered and discarded She was found just across the river from one of the largest cities in the country Cincinnati Ohio Soon the authorities the newspapers and the public were obsessed with finding the poor girl’s identity and killer Misinformation and rumor spread wildly around the case and led authorities down countless wrong paths Initially it appeared the crime would go unsolved An autopsy however revealed that the victim was four months pregnant presenting a possible motive It would take the hard work of a sheriff two detectives and the unlikely dedication of a shoe dealer to find out who the girl was; and once she had been identified the case came together Within a short time the police believed they had her killers—a handsome and charismatic dental student and his roommate—and enough evidence to convict them of first degree murder While the suspects seemed to implicate themselves the police never got a clear answer as to what exactly happened to the girl and they were never able to find her lost head—despite the recovery of a suspicious empty valise  Centering his riveting new book Unwanted A Murder Mystery of the Gilded Age around this shocking case and how it was solved historian Andrew Young re creates late nineteenth century America where Coca Cola in bottles newfangled movie houses the Gibson Girl and ragtime music played alongside prostitution temperance racism homelessness the rise of corporations and the women’s rights movement While the case inspired the sensationalized pulp novel Headless Horror songs warning girls against falling in love with dangerous men ghost stories and the eerie practice of random pennies left heads up on a worn gravestone the story of an unwanted young woman captures the contradictions of the Gilded Age as America stepped into a new century and toward a modern age

10 thoughts on “Unwanted

  1. says:

    A great and fast read More than just a true crime murder mystery Each chapter explores an interesting aspect of culture and life in the guided age Packed with interesting tid bits tangents and humor without slowing down the pace of the main story Pick it up and try prologue If you liked Erik Larson's devil in the white city than you have to read this

  2. says:

    Not nearly as interesting as Devil in the White City but I still enjoyed it for the historic tidbits I have to agree with previous reviewers that it seemed like the author included a lot of superfluous stories that were barely connected to the main story in any way It's not a particularly long book so maybe he just wanted some filler I much preferred the other book I read recently about a serial killer in Austin at the turn of the century Updated that one was called The Midnight Assassin

  3. says:

    Really enjoyed this I enjoyed reading about what my home was like 100 years ago I work in Fort Thomas and drive on Alexandria Pike everyday so it was weird to know where everything took placeAs for the actual writing itself Young does a good job No flowery writing It's to the point Not horribly disgusting for those with sensitive stomachs but for those like me with a taste for the macabre it has enough that you're not bored Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling Did they kill Pearl? Most likely They went to their graves protesting their guilt and with forensic science being what it was we'll never know 100% The evidence was mostly circumstantial and the witnesses were all sketchy or somewhat disproven Someone on that jury had to have a shadow of a doubt whether one of the suspects killed her but deliberations were speedy Walling and Jackson most likely deserved what they got however I will argue that they did not receive a fair trialEveryone and their brother had pronounced them guilty before the trial even started The trials shouldn't have taken place in the Cincinnati area We'll never know the whole story and it's frustrating All we have is speculation and testimonies of people who wanted attention We have inept police officers and one of the most important people on the case was a shoe salesman And THOUGH UNLIKELY it's possible two innocent men died for it No other suspects were even considered The crime scene was compromised Definitely recommend this; especially for those familiar with Campbell County It's fascinating to think about what might have been standing 100 years ago in the very spot you're sitting

  4. says:

    It’s the late 1800’s in the Cincinnati Ohio area and a young woman’s decapitated body has been found in a farmer’s field This book traces the story of the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators The initial challenge is to simply identify her because the head is missing With fingerprints not yet broadly used in law enforcement and crime scene preservation not even a topic of conversation the attempt to identify the girl finally comes down to an observant shoe seller who recognizes her shoes uniueness and is able to actually trace the sale The young lady had travelled to Cincinnati from her family’s rural farm to meet up with a boyfriend This is a very detailed look at a very brutal crime The story is based on extensive research of the accounts that remain from the time I really appreciated the structure of the chapters with each looking at an aspect of the investigation from start to finish It’s almost surprising that the identification of the body and the perpetrators was possible given the limited tools the police had available to them at the time This book should be of interest to those who like true crime or historical crime stories

  5. says:

    The case is fascinating but a lot of details are lost The author had to rely heavily on sensationalized and somewhat unreliable newspaper reports The book is padded with historical tangents that are interesting but also feel like fluff It is always interesting to learn about how crimes were investigated before modern forensics so the book was still enjoyable and it gives a light overview of the Gilded Age that isn't about rich people

  6. says:

    This book is very hard to understand It jumps around with all of these options of how the murder could have happened losing the context of what the verdict was It brings in multiple people that could have been the victim and stories of other cases and topics that yes happened in the Gilded age but have nothing to do with the murder I overall did not like this book and would not recommend it to a friend

  7. says:

    This book had way to much information that was unneeded Either write the story or a textbook don't try to combine them There were a lot of parts that needed to be reread because they didn't make sense The book got off topic very freuently and the whole book could have been told in about 5 chapter if there wasn't all the unnecessary information Over the book was too long and not a good read

  8. says:

    35 uick entertaining read I liked the many digressions into tangentially related historical facts but I'm not sure all of it was necessary for context Very enjoyable I'm from Ohio and don't know much of the local history so it was interesting to read all about Cincinnati

  9. says:

    I found this book uite boring Far too much irrelevant information and too much filler find it interesting that the author calls this nonfiction

  10. says:

    Interesting Lots of historical data from the period