“I’m fed up with my wife,” Joseph Castelli confided to his lifelong friend Francisco Vetere. “I want your help to get rid of her.” The fiendish plan he then outlined was that he would pay Vetere to seduce Mrs. Castelli and persuade her to elope with him, and that Castelli would “discover” her infidelity and kill her in revenge.

Remarkably, because the two conspirators were deaf-mutes, the whole scheme was hatched in sign language.

Vetere, 24, seems to have had no problems seducing Mrs. Annie Castelli, 31, who was also a deaf-mute, whereupon the two lovers took a train from New York to Connecticut, where they checked in at a boarding-house. When they went out to dinner, Joseph Castelli slipped into their room, which Vetere had conveniently left unlocked, hid and waited.

Castelli leapt out and attacked his wife as she was about to get into bed with her lover. The two conspirators dragged the screaming woman into the bathroom, where they poured poison down her throat and faked a scene to make it look as if she had slipped on soap and struck her head. The landlady discovered her next day, still alive, but she died on her way to hospital.

Castelli and Vetere were charged with murder and tried at a hearing conducted entirely in sign language. They were hanged in Connecticut on Friday, October 5th, 1917.