What did the Pig-Woman know about the murder?

The Pig-Woman testifies from her hospital in the murder trial.
The Pig-Woman testifies from her hospital in the murder trial.

ANYONE WHO IS A HARDCORE FAN of unsolved mysteries, anyone who has an avid interest in them, any of these people will get a knowing smile on their face if you bring up the subject of The Pig-Woman. The Pig-Woman has a certain amount of fame and bizarre respect in unsolved mystery circles.

Bennie Crenshaw found himself describing the antics of The Pig-Woman one day to a novice, a newbie, a person who had not yet developed an interest in unsolved mysteries. The person, Leonard Dinsmore, was developing an intrest rather quickly. Bennie egged him on. He was hoping to get a new recruit with which to discuss his favorite topics.

“The Pig-Woman had come to a sensational trial at the Somerset County Courthouse in rural Somerville, New Jersey in November of 1926. In fact, she was most probably going to have to testify. Before she could take the stand, she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital with a severe stomach ailment. One story stated that she actually had cancer—she was very ill.   The show needed to go on. When she improved a bit, her hospital bed was wheeled into the courtroom with her in it!” Bennie started his amazing story with these words.

“Of all the…” Leonard started, but Bennie interrupted with more of the fascinating story.

“She was about to give her testimony from the bed. She had been an unobserved witness to a horrific event. She had heard voices at the crime scene, from a hidden vantage point and this is what she heard: she heard an argument, the sounds of a scuffle. She overheard a woman say ‘Explain these letters.’ She heard the angry voices of two women. One of the women’s voices then said, ‘Oh Henry.’ There was a gunshot. Then the other woman began to scream, unbearably loud and the words, ‘Oh my, oh my, oh my.’ Then there were three more shots.” The Pig-Woman was frantic to get away from the scary events, and was struggling to get her foot in the stirrup of the saddle on her mule, but finally she did make her getaway unobserved.

While giving her testimony, she named the people that belonged to the voices. Some of them were in the courtroom.”

Leonard had an expression of incredulity on his face and Bennie was relishing every bit of it.

“The Pig-Woman’s own mother had a front row seat at the trial,” Bennie continued. “While her daughter was testifying, the mother hollered out, ‘She’s a liar, liar, liar. That’s what she is and what she’s always been.’ As The Pig-Woman was wheeled out of the courtroom in her bed, she exclaimed while staring at the defendants, ‘I told the truth, so help me God. And you know it, you know it, you know it!’

“So what was this horrible crime about? What does anyone know?” Leonard asked.

“I’m getting to that,” Bennie said with a sly grin. “On September 16, 1922, a young couple walking on DeRussey’s Lane near New Brunswick, New Jersey came upon two fresh corpses. They were laid out, elegantly. The man was attired in a suit and had on a clerical collar. A Panama hat covered his face. The woman placed beside him wore a polka dot dress and had a scarf arranged across her face. There were three bullet holes in her forehead in the shape of a triangle. The man had one bullet hole in the center of his forehead. Letters, which turned out to be their own love letters to each other in the midst of their hot affair, were strewn around them. He turned out to be the Rev. Edward Wheeler Hall, and she turned out to be Mrs. Eleanor Mills, 34, a soprano in his choir. They were both married to other people and Mrs. Mill’s husband was actually a sexton in their Episcopal church. Oh, and there is one more thing…”

After an audible gasp, Leonard asked, “What?”

“Mrs. Mill’s tongue, larynx and trachea had been expertly excised. Naturally their spouses were the first suspects. The case was bungled from the start. It stalled for four years. Everyone had alibis, it seemed. The newspapers kept the story alive, and printed enough tidbits from tipsters that prosecutors felt they had enough information to take it to trial. Yet even with the expert testimony of The Pig-Woman, the defendants were all found not guilty on December 3, 1926. The case remains unsolved.”

“After all of this time, they never figured it out?” Leonard asked.

“Nope, never did. Another high point of the trial, was when the limelight-loving daughter of the murdered woman, a flapper named Charlotte, took the stand and identified the love letters and a diary kept by the minister.”

“It seems like whoever did the murder might have had a problem with Mrs. Mill’s singing, the way they mutilated her throat like that,” Leonard concluded. “Why did they call the woman in the hospital bed The Pig-Woman? Did she have facial features like a pig or something? Why on earth…”

“The Pig-Woman was Mrs. Jane Gibson and she owned a pig farm nearby. It was close to the crime scene, and she had been out on her mule looking for a thief who had been stealing her corn. She has been known forevermore as The Pig-Woman.”

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Sara, I wonder why the jury did not believe the Pig Woman. It’s strange for an eyewitness account to be thrown out, or did she really witness the murder?

    • Sara Marie Hogg

      The defense made her out to be a lunatic, a crazy woman. It was a six of one half-dozen of the other. Do you believe her or not?. She was sort of one of those town characters before the trial ever commenced–made out to be an uneducated rural woman, a little daft. Do you believe a “crazy woman” when her own mother is on the front row calling her a liar? I for one believe she did witness some of it. The defendants were Mrs. Hall and 3 of her male relatives. One of the male relatives was released from being prosecuted before the trial. Mrs. Hall did have a supposed alibi. They just could not make it stick. The crime scene was trampled over by people collecting souvenirs. The crab apple tree at the scene was obliterated by people carving off bits of it. They did not do a proper autopsy on Mrs. Mills until 4 years after the murder. Mrs. Hall, who was declared not guilty later instigated a defamation of character suit against a NY newspaper that she thought had a slanted opinion. She did not sue the other newspaper. She came from a family with lots of connections and one account said she was related to the Johnsons of the Johnson & Johnson Co., among other influential people. “Bungling.”– that is the case in a nutshell. It looks like they got some good prints off of the minister’s business card, but maybe they were his own prints. A series of errors. What possessed the mother to sit in court and call her own daughter a liar? Was the mother paid off to do that? An odd thing: Reverend Hall and his wife, accused of his murder, are buried next to each other as if nothing ever happened-as are Mrs. Mills and her husband. Bizarre.

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