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Positively New Jersey: Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Hall-Mills murders

Wednesday marked 100 years since a New Brunswick Episcopal priest and a member of the church choir were murdered in what would become one of the most famous crime cases of the 20th century.

Sep 15, 2022, 12:50 AM

Updated 643 days ago

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Wednesday marked 100 years since a New Brunswick Episcopal priest and a member of the church choir were murdered in what would become one of the most famous crime cases of the 20th century - the Hall-Mills murders.
The bodies of Edward Wheeler Hall - an episcopal priest in New Brunswick - and Eleanor Mills - a member of the choir with whom Hall was having an affair - were found on Sept. 16, 1922, side by side under a tree on an abandoned Franklin Township farm.
It was determined the two had been murdered at another location two days earlier and moved to the spot, where torn love letters were scattered among the bodies.
Hall's wife, Frances Noel Stevens, two brothers and cousin, all from wealthy families, were accused of plotting and committing the murders. They were acquitted at a trial at the Somerset County Courthouse.
Intense coverage by the New York media, first surrounding the investigation and then the trial four years later, turned the murder into one of the first nationwide true crime spectacles of the modern media age.
On today's episode of "Brian's Positively New Jersey,” we look at two local examinations of the murders on the 100th anniversary. First, an exhibit at the Franklin Township Public Library, which includes artifacts and photos from the case and trial itself.
Then, a few miles away in New Brunswick, an immersive play is being produced in the very church where Hall preached and Mills sang.
"Thou Shalt Not" produced by Thinkery and Verse Productions at St. John the Evangelist Church, focuses on the life of the daughter of Mills who became a pariah in the church after her mother was murdered.
In the process, it explores themes that were missed in the breathless lurid media coverage of the day and many of the books written since - the abuse of power; violence against women; and the rippling toll a murder like this takes on those left behind.
The play opens Saturday and runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Oct. 8.


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