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True Detective February 1991
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There have been many public hangings in the past, and if it was still possible to witness one, the event would probably attract greater numbers of sensation seekers than it would protesters. In this country, there are probably only a handful of people who have seen a person being executed, and grisly though the proceedings must have been, the due judicial process would have sanitised the event, making it dispassionate in the extreme. Gangland executions, on the other hand, leave few witnesses alive, and are usually swift.
One type of execution, however, would have very few spectators willing to admit they had been present, which is what makes our title "I Witnessed A Lynching" so sensational. But in 1933, then then young reporter, Edward Sullivan strolled innocently into the arena of vigilante justice, to be confronted by a horrifying spectacle which would chill anyone’s heart!
Life and death situations are not strangers to the telephone operators who answer our 999 calls, but one such telephonist, perpetually geared to dealling with emergencies, found herself in a hair-raising situation similar to that of Edward Sullivan. Dial M For Murder, by Brian Marriner, recalls how a Newcastle operator answered a call and by sheer chance overheard a brutal murder.