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Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso

Un libro in lingua di Gross Kali Nicole edito da Oxford University Press, 2016

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Shortly after a dismembered torso was discovered by a pond outside Philadelphia in 1887, investigators honed in on two black suspects: Mary Tabbs, a married, working class, black woman, and George Wilson, a former co-worker who Tabbs implicated after her arrest. Eventually police identified the victim as Wakefield Gaines, a biracial man who was Tabbs's paramour. The crime and ensuing trial--which spanned several months--featured in the national press. It brought otherwise taboo subjects such as illicit sex, adultery, and domestic violence in the black community to public attention. At the same time, the mixed race of the victim and one of his assailants exacerbated anxieties over race in the post-Reconstruction era.

Drawing on detectives' notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and archival documents historian Kali Nicole Gross reconstructs this ghastly case and analyzes it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and domestic violence within the black community. Gross highlights how one woman was implicated in and beat the criminal justice system in this adulterous love-triangle gone wrong.

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