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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The New York Ledger, November 7, 1863

This story was also published anonymously in Alta Daily Californian, September 4, 1864.

 
Detecting a Murderer

by Emerson Bennett

  been very handsome and attractive. There was nothing about her to give a clue to her identity or the place from which she came; but in the pocket of her dress was found a letter, without superscription; in her clenched hand was the button of a man's coat, with a small piece of cloth adhering to it, evidently torn out in her death-struggle with the murderer; and from the ground beside her was picked up a small key, apparently belonging to a portmanteau. These three articles were all that could be discovered calculated to give any clew to the mystery whatever; and when I state that the letter was without date or signature, and was mainly designed to bring about a meeting at the ‘usual place,’ where that might be, it will readily be seen how slight was the chance of proving the identity of the deceased and detecting the assassin.

“The body of the murdered girl had been brought to the tavern immediately after its discovery, and at the time of my arrival, the coroner and his jury were in the act of holding an inquest, which, as might be supposed, . . .

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    The following story was related by a person who had served a number of years as a secret detective agent of the government.

“I was travelling through the interior of Kentucky, (said the narrator,) when, on stopping one day at the inn of a small village, I found the citizens of the place in great excitement over a strange murder which had just come to light. In a cornfield, about half a mile from the village, and just off from a small by-road, a young girl, apparently about sixteen or seventeen years of age, had been found dead and decaying, with such marks of violence upon her person as left no doubt that she had been dealt with in the most revolting and fiendish manner. What made the matter more strange and wonderful, was the fact that the deceased was entirely unknown to everybody in that region. She was quite respectably dressed, and though her face when discovered was somewhat black and a good deal swelled, yet there were such traces of lineament as led many who saw the corpse to believe she had

   

 

 

 
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