This is a respectable farm and Ill have no scandal here! So saying, wealthy farmer Josh Burns summarily fired two of his hands, James Plew, 47, and William Wakefield, 45.
The farmer had become angry when he discovered that Plew, a married man, was having an affair with Wakefields wife Bessie and, worse still, perhaps, that Wakefield didnt seem to mind. In the early years of the 20th century in rural Middlebury, Connecticut, that wouldnt do.
Wakefield moved away from the immediate area, but Plew, pleading poverty, threw himself on the farmers mercy and got his job back. No sooner had he returned to work than he discovered where the Wakefields were living and jumped back into bed with Bessie.
Youll have to kill William, the lovesick Bessie murmured in Plews ear. And so, the next time Plew called on the Wakefields, on June 13th, 1913, he brought with him a handgun, chloroform and handcuffs.
Sometime around midnight Plew provoked an argument. He throttled Wakefield, stifled him with chloroform, fettered him in handcuffs, and dragged him nine miles on foot to the Cheshire woods, arriving at 4 a.m. There Plew shot his rival six times in the back, rolled over the body and drove a knife into Wakefields heart.
Still not satisfied, he removed the laces from his victims shoes, tied a noose, and hanged the already dead man from a tree. The body was found by hunters, still hanging, six days later.
Back home Bessie Wakefield had been confidently telling neighbours: Williams left me. He intends to commit suicide. The discovery of the hanging body gave the lie to that. She and Plew were both arrested and tried for murder. Plew was philosophical about his fate when he went to the gallows on Wednesday, March 4th, 1914. But after local suffragettes rallied round Bessie, she was re-tried, and her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.