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True Detective March 1991
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This is a crime which is easy to understand. It is a poor person’s crime, based in real or imaginary need. To understand it is not to condone it, but at least it does not carry the same dread as seemingly motiveless crimes do.
The first story in this issue is about the murder of a respectable young woman. She had gone on a date with a good looking and very charming young man. Her uncle, with whom she lived, never saw her alive after waving goodbye to her when she went to keep her appointment.
The man she went out with had a way with the ladies, and was a bit of a womaniser – little did the girl know that he was due to be married the day after taking her out. Her body was found on the morning of his wedding, and in the evening, news appeared in the late editions of the local paper of the terrible murder. The best man knew his friend had seen the murdered girl the night before: he also knew that because of the wedding, he would have had to go to bed reasonably early to be fresh for the big day.
Sexual assault was reasoned to be the motive for the murder – but the bridegroom could hardly be regarded as sexually deprived. So had someone intercepted the victim at some point during the late evening? Was there a maniac about, with the bridegroom set up as a stooge?
Night Of Terror At The Jolly Carter was a murder which raised immense controversy at the time. A pregnant woman, who might have been an unexpected witness to the theft of an enormous sum of money, was done away with. Murder had not been the intention of the thieves, who were well versed in a crime known commonly as hocussing. They had gone armed with laudanum to drug the victims to sleep. Thomas de Quincey, a leading intellectual, deplored the death sentence which was quickly meted out to the killers. Was justice done?