There’s a lot in life we can count on. Death, taxes, the sunrise, and political turmoil--these are all guaranteed, safe bets. But outside that, everything else is an assumption. And sometimes we get it tragically, horribly wrong.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
At the moment the police arrived. They were confused, the body of Thomas
Men lay on the rough desert grass, his hands tied and his mouth covered with tape, but it wasn't helpless expire
sure to the New Mexico son that had killed him. No, it was the bullet wound in his forehead, the truck.
was there was no gun near the body, so the police began to assume Hickman had been murdered, and yet the crime scene,
no evidence that anyone else had been there just Hickman his car is tracks and the vast expanse
desert. It was a murder mystery that would baffle the police for awhile, at least at some point you see
one of the officers, noticed something white flapping around off in the distance caught around a bit of undergrowth,
when they investigated it, they discovered it was a small gathering of balloons. Each one filled with helium that had been tied to the most unexpected object, a piss
at the moment they realized it. The pieces fell into place.
Hickman hadn't been murdered. After all, he had driven
Himself out into the desert tied the balloons to his hands
and then assumed that when his body let go of it, the helium and wind would carry it far away
leaving his family with a large life insurance jack rather than the trauma of a suicide, but that was Hickmans problem. He assumed.
History is full of mistakes made by people who have looked at all the facts that they have and then just assumed
in eighteen. Ninety nine, the commissioner of the: U S patent office, a man named Charles Dual assume that everything that could be invented already had
the nineteen twenty seven Harry Warner, one of the war
brothers? The movie studio, is named after assumed now
one would ever want to hear actors actually talk at all
in wells. Nineteen, thirty, eight audio drama adaptation of the war of the worlds trick, thousands of peace.
into assuming the planet was being invaded by martians, butts,
assumptions can create a bigger mess, when we assume we write off
all other possibilities and throw ourselves completely behind an idea that we believe to be the full and complete truth. But assumption can lead us towards tragedy and the sooner we catch it. The sooner the real truth can be pursued
and as history has shown us time and time again, innocent lives may depend on it. I'm Aaron Monkey, and this is lore
When we think of sale of Massachusetts, we tend to think of one of the most prominent events in our nations. History, the Salem which trials because
Seeing the book on Salem that early means we miss out on so much more that took place there, because, even though the witch try
ended in sixteen ninety three Salem prominence had only just begun
Within a century, Salem had grown to be the sixth largest city in the newborn nation of United States and, more importantly, it was the wealthiest of them all
beating out even Boston, Philadelphia and New York City, and all of that wealth was around
lt the importance and power of the shipping industry, something Salem had deep roots in and that wealth found an outlet in a new style of architecture, known as the fair
Old style, from about seventeen, thirty two eighteen, thirty buildings are
Over early America were constructed with an eye toward the ancient greek and roman cultures places where many
saw the roots of democracy and in Salem in particular, that style was reflect
in a number of large homes and public buildings.
We owe a lot of that thanks to a Salem architect and builder name, Samuel Mcintyre, the Marquis left on the city can still be seen today. In fact, if you ever get the chance to visit Salem, take a walk down Chestnut Street, where many of his homes arse
standing and you will be able to bask in the glow of his simple genius. But today I want to tell you about one house in particular:.
It was built by Mcintyre in eighteen, o four for a very wealthy client named John Gardner.
Gardener had made his fortune in the same way, so many others had in Salem by importing and x
sporting goods on his own fleet of ships, and this beautiful red Brick mansion, complete with its black shutters and white corinthian columns.
was meant to be a way to show off that wealth. Then war began to brew, as
salt gardeners, shipping empire began to run at a loss to cover their debts,
he and his wife, Sarah sold the house just a few years after moving in then in one thousand, eight hundred and fourteen just a decade after it had been built, it's sold yet again
this time to another wealthy shipmaster and trader named Captain Joseph White Whites was an interesting fellow and there's a lot of complexity. I need to expose you two before we can move on with the story. You need to understand the players before we hear the tale. I suppose so. Let me
those details. Out of the way whites was a retired old widower with no children of his own, but he was also
insanely, wealthy in modern
and see. He was probably worth five million dollars, which was a lot of my
me too hanging in the balance when there was no obvious air to inherit it, but he did have family around him first
was his niece, an older woman named MRS Backward. I can't find a record of win exact
Is she moved in with them? But my guess is: it was shortly after his wife passed away. Bedford left her own farm
property in nearby when em to live and work in White House as a housekeeper. Putting the far
into the hands of her daughter Mary.
There was his nephew Stephen White,
even was a success story in the making. An old captain White probably felt the closest he was ever going to get to parental pride. In regards to Stephen.
He was a Massachusetts state senator with a promising career ahead of him and his connections to people like the legendary statesmen, Daniel Webster and Supreme Court justice. Joseph story certainly didn't hurt,
There were a couple of others in and around the house too,
Benjamin White was a distant relative who worked on the property as a sort of handyman and gardener while low
the woman Lydia Kimball rounded out the household staff as a made under MRS Backwards guidance, everyone
zoomed that when old captain White passed away most of that immense fortune of his we passed on to Stephen, with a smaller share for MRS Backward, but by eighteen, thirty life was a bit more come.
Ex than Captain White was an eighty two year old by then, and while the
our gossip constantly pondered how we would all play out. He was still as healthy as ever, and he was cranky too often times
using the threat of inclusion or exclusion from his will as leverage over his relatives on the night of April six of eighteen. Thirty captain white wine
bed slightly later than normal, perhaps around half past nine- that evening
when Handyman Benjamin White arrived in the morning to take care of his daily work. He noticed a car.
love unusual things. First, there was a window on the first floor of the house that was open near by a plank leaned against the side of the house, as if some one had used it to climb inside and a number of footprints guided the soil around
worried that a thief might have broken into steal. Any number of the valuable items that the captain Captain his mansion, Benjamin entered the house and approached Lydia the young made. Then together they cautiously walk through the house looking for missing objects but found none. What they did find, though, was that captain whites bedroom door
was ajar. I dont know if they knocked and called out for the old man or if they slowly no
the door open while holding their breath, but somehow they found the
sell standing in his bedroom looking down on the bed with her hands held to their mouths? The old captain was there, but it was clear from the blow
and wounds and general disarray that he would not be
rising to start his day or any day Captain Joseph White was dead. He wasn't just dead white had been brutally murdered, blood covered his clothing and bedsheets, having poured out of the thirteen stab wounds that were dotted across his torso and as if that weren't enough, his head had been
ass. With a blunt object. There was no blood on his face, but it was clear that his skull had been badly fractured. Benjamin and Lydia immediately sent word to Stephen White about the murder and he arrived as quickly as he could manage once there
He called upon to men to help him with the situation. One was William Ward who worked for captain white as a clerk and a business man.
The other was Samuel Johnson. Why possible
the most prominent physician in all of Salem.
Lord did a lot of things that looking back nearly two centuries later, would feel at home in an episode of CSI. He found those footprints in the dirt outside the downstairs window and because the light reign was beginning to fall, he covered them with a large pan
He would later compare those footprints to those of Benjamin and Lydia ruling them out as suspects.
Doktor Johnson did what he did best and took care of the body of the old man after in an
she'll examination right there where he had been found. Captain whites body was taken away for an official autopsy, but the results were less than helpful. It wasn't clear whether it was the multiple stab wounds that killed him or the blow to the head.
A later second autopsy was more accurate, determining that
and white had been bludgeoned after he died from the fractured skull, but it also conclusively proved something else: there had been more than one killer, which naturally set the public on edge,
It was one thing to know that one cold blooded murderer was loose on the streets, but to everyone
began to assume that they would be the next victim. New locks were installed,
those in doors were shut tight at night and the demand for daggers and pistols became so great that special shipments were brought up from Boston with the question.
Of how out of the way, and everyone unanimously agreed that the. Why was money? The next mystery to be solved was who it sounded simple enough, but there were honestly just too many people too,
consider, and while I know it might not be the most dispensable thing to do. I need to walk you through a small handful of them so that the rest of this story can make sense. First up would be captain whites nephew,
even though he was the one that almost everyone in town assumed would inherit whites fortune, but he also
had a solid alibi. Having
seen by multiple witnesses in Boston. At the time of the murder. His cousin, MRS Backward, who worked as the housekeeper for Captain White, was also assume
backed, but not for the reasons you might think it had to do with her daughter, Mary and it's complicated
you see Mary and Captain White had originally been close, closer
four rumours of incestuous affair and a larger than normal inheritance. But Mary
fell in love with a young captain named Joseph Nap Junior, who worked on one of captain white ships. Why disapproved of their relationship for whatever reason and gave them an ultimatum stay together and lose everything the inheritance and the employment or split up and stay secure? Mary and Joseph
those two state together the here they were a young married couple living on MRS Backwards Farm and when I'm because they had lost everything thanks to captain White who better to pin the murder on right. Well, it wasn't as easy as that. Much like Stephen White, the entire nap family was there.
well respected sure they had invented successful, is captain white having lost one of their ships to pirates, but Joseph Junior, along with his brothers, Frank and fishermen, and their father, Joseph Senior, we're all respected members of the community
So without a strong suspect, the town put together a vigilance committee of twenty seven members were tasked with solving the crime. They were instructed to go door to door and search every single home in Salem. Looking for anything that might help solve the murder
In the end, though, the they were looking for came not from
of the many beautiful homes there, but from a nearby jail with
Spending too much time on the little details, there was the confession of a local prisoner. That pointed the vigilance.
committee in the direction of to suspects, a pair of brothers name.
Richard and George Crowninshield. Richard was a gambler and George was a bit of a ladies man.
And together they operated a machine shop as affront to more criminal activities as suspects they made sense,
Throw in a mysterious letter from another ex con in Belfast main that hinted at a hidden crime and soon a story began to unfold. The Crowninshield brothers had been hired by two local men to kill captain white and steal. His will hoping that that would prevent his fortune from being passed exclusively to his nephew. Stephen and the identity of those men would rock the community. It had been too of the nap brothers. Joseph and Frank
it was almost as if their reputation evaporated overnight
is their names were made public. The two Nat brothers, along with Richard and George Crowninshield, were rounded up and arrested, and I
to believe that Salem and the surrounding area exhale the collective sigh of relief. The killers had been captured, and now they were safe. But of course, if we
be that simple, what it s, not how real life works, its more nuanced and complex, with shades of gray mixed in with the black and white
even though the four men were in custody. None of them would talk. That is
until a local minister name, Reverend Henry Coleman stepped in to try and help it turns out. Comin
was the minister of the independent congregational church, where Joe
if and Mary Nap, where members, alongside Stephen White, when he wasn't in Boston for work, so maybe it
the desire to preserve his flock- or perhaps he just loved, the metal will never be entirely sure
Coleman arrived at the jail with an offer if Joseph Junior would can,
ass in writing. Perhaps he could secure immunity for the young man Josephs Brother, Frank, who was also in jail protested. The idea so did their father captain
but it didn't matter because the young man sat down shortly after and rode out a full confession, and while he did that common travelled, the boss,
somehow managed to pull the attorney general out of his bed in the dead of night and get him to agree to this bargain in exchange for a full confession, Joseph
Nap Junior, was going to be immune from all charges and that seem like the sort of hope he was looking for. A story was compelling to say the least. According to Joseph, it was Frank who approached the Crowninshield brothers about
Killing, Captain White, the reason was exactly what everyone had suspected. What the old man.
Ed and his last will, and testimony stolen. His estate would have to be divided equally among his relatives, which meant Joseph and Mary would receive a larger chunk of change,
Four days before the murder took place, Joseph managed to steal the will from an iron chest and Captain White House. Then, on April sixth, you visited the house.
And and secretly unlocked the window in the parlour making it possible for Richard Crowninshield enter later that night and do the deed
The story also confirm the medical exams on captain whites body. Richard had crept into the old man's bedroom
about making a sound and found the room to be flooded with brilliant moonlight standing over the captain.
killer, brought his weapon down hard on the old man skull killing him instantly. Just to be sure, though, he appealed back the covers and plunged a dagger into the captain's just over and over again, and then he slipped back out into the night.
Joseph confession was clear about all of the rules Joseph.
the inside man, Frank, hired the killer, and Richard did the dirty work. They were a team, yes
but the blood was really only on one man's hands, Richard Crowninshield and because the can
fashion, actually led the authorities to the location of the murder weapon, a beastly to foot long lead waited club. It seemed like an open and shut case, but Richard had a different idea,
learning about the confession and the version of the story painted by Joseph Nap. He used to silk handkerchief to make a noose and hang himself in his jail cell.
which was obviously tragic. Yes, but it also complicated things a bit.
Because, while the killer was now dead, no one had formerly convicted him of a crime, and that was a problem. That's because Massachusetts State LAW at the time,
was clear about when accessory to murder could be tried for their role in the crime it had to be after the primary suspect had been convicted and because that had never happened and could never happen thanks to richer Crowninshield suicide. They were all technically off the hook.
And free to go. Yes, they had all work together to plan and carry out the crime. Yes, it had been Frank Nap who had paid Richard Crowninshield, the modern equivalent of about twenty five thousand dollars and
yes, Joseph had made at all possible by unlocking the window and stealing the will, but they hadn't wielded the weapons and therefore would never be convicted for the murder of Captain Joseph White at least that's what everyone is.
And an assumption can be a lot like a locked house in the dead of night. It can give us comforts and help us feel safe and lawless into a false sense of security, so much so that we drop our guard and become vulnerable. Assumption is natural, but it's also dangerous, because sometimes people make mistakes look
Get it on the surface. There's nothing particularly special about the murder of Captain Joseph White. It's one of countless murders that have taken place in America since the founding of the nation. However, sad that might be to say out loud humans are very good at killing each other, and this story is just one more example of that. But there is a deeper current flowing beneath the surface of this story that we need to take note of this wasn't a straightforward murder case. It was riddled with holes and mistakes on both sides of the courtroom and all of those flaws
I did it toward an awkward and uncertain fanelli in a lot of ways. It was this trial that set the tone for so many other impossible. Murder tales, the ones where
simplest answer is the farthest from the truth and weak
blame all of it on assumption that community assume
that they knew. What the motive was others this
whom they knew who the killer was and the killers. If that's, who the arrested men really were even assumed, they had succeeded at the end of the day, it's possible that all of them were wrong all because they assumed now that last part might have been a bit confusing, and I want to explain it for you, but not just yet. First, I want to tell you the rest of the story, because, while George Crown and
old, did manage to slip away to freedom, rank and Joseph Junior weren't so lucky, and that's because of a man named Daniel Webster Webster was a powerful statesmen,
for his career. He served in the U S, house of representatives for both New Hampshire and Massachusetts and later as a U S, senator he was the secretary of State for three different president's and above all of that he was a talented attorney and a good friend of Stephen White and Stephen White had recently come into some money.
Remember so for the handsome sum Stephen White hired Daniel Webster to get involved in the case and as a result, Joseph and Frank Nap were pulled back into the legal workings of the court system. Webster gave dramatic speeches
and entertaining retelling of the murder of old captain white and he fought against the legal precedents that had so far protected the two brothers from conviction and it worked on August. Twenty first of eighteen, thirty Frank Nap was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. An execution that took place one month later on
but twenty Eightth and his brother Joseph the one who had stolen the will and masterminded the entire murder was convicted a short while later he was hanged on December thirty. First.
and yet the story doesn't end. There.
I mentioned a moment ago that the killers assumed they had succeeded. Yes, captain White was really dead so that part of their plan worked,
the main goal had been to steal and destroy the old man's will thereby guaranteeing themselves a larger piece of his fortune, and when that they failed, they failed because Captain White wasn't a stupid man. Yes, he kept a copy of his will and locked iron chest in his house, but that was because it
in older copy. The most recent version of his will, the one that would be legally binding and clearly instruct the distribution of his estate
was safely in the hands of his attorney. Exactly where it should have been all along Joseph Nap made an assumption
putting his life on the line for what he believed to be a sure thing. He placed his bed and he lost at all
the story of the murder of Captain Joseph White is more than just a legendary tale that still HANS Salem Massachusetts. Almost two centuries later, it's a tale of
somethin, and failure of greed and death and its influence has reached farther than you might believe. Stick around after this brief sponsor break to learn all about that. This episode was made possible by staff stock, come if you're a small business owner you're busy enough as it is needed, have time to deal with,
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the addition of Daniel Webster to the trial of Joseph in Frank, Nap added, a new level of experience and skill to the story. Webster was one of the most talented lawyer
of his day. But there is something else about him that he's remembered for, and it's an old one,
Third, we don't often see any more. He was
an orator specifically Daniel Webster was really good at public speaking. He was compelling enthralling and downright entertaining.
when he spoke in the courtroom. There was never a drooping island or a snoring. Member of the jury had away with words that pulled you in and refuse to. Let you go
and everyone who had a chance to hear him thoroughly enjoyed the ride. So a problem.
Won't surprise you to learn that his words were often recorded and even redistributed to the wider public people wanted to read the things he said, and rightly so.
Let me read to you a passage from one of his many statements in the trial of Joseph and Frank Nap. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim in all beneath the roof, a healthy old man to whom
sleep with sweet. The first sound slumbers of the night held him in their soft, but strong, embrace the assassin enters through
Window already prepared into an unoccupied apartment the face
the innocent. Sleeper was turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon resting on the gray locks of his aged temple showed him where to strike a fatal blow was given and the victim passes without a struggle or a motion from the repose of sleep to the repose of death, the deed is done. He retreats retraced his steps to the window past
out through it. As he came in and escapes he had done the murder. No, I had seen him. No ear has heard him. The secrets is his own and it is safe.
Gentlemen that was a dreadful mistake, such a secret can be safe. Nowhere
whole creation of God has neither Nook nor corner where the guilty can bestow it and say it is safe. Not to speak of that. I, which glances through all disguises and behold
We think, as in the splendor of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection even by men.
now be honest. There are a lot of writers and speakers from the nineteenth century that I would have a hard time stain awake for, but this glorious retelling of the murder of captain white by Daniel Webster breaks the mould.
Seems to step across the threshold that separates boring legal defence from the work of victorian whore net.
not the only one who thinks so. In fact, this retelling to the death of Captain White went on to inspire a particular writer.
Spend his own tail of murder guilt and our inability,
hide from our own shame. Listen to this passage, pulled from his story.
When I had waited a long time very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little a very, very little crevice in the lantern
so I opened it. You cannot imagine how stealthily stealthily until at length the simple dim ray like the thread of the spider shot from out the crevice in fell full upon the vulture. I it was open, wide, wide open and I grew furious as
gazed upon it. With a loud yell. I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room he shrieked. Once only once in an instant, I dragged him to the floor and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily to find the deed. So far done. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone stone dead is. I would trouble.
No more! That's right. Thanks to the captivating words of Daniel Webster, another man found
Inspiration to put a tale of suspense and horror onto the page, his story like that of Daniel Webster's, reveals the deeds of a killer,
enters a quiet bedroom in the dead of night and wrestles, with the guilt of his actions and that dreadful dreadful. I
And even if you ve never read it, you'll recognize it by its name. The tell tale heart by EDGAR Allan POE because yes, sometimes are really does imitate life, but also death.
This episode of law was written and produced by me. Aaron Mahnke, with research
Taylor, Haggard, orn and music by Chad, Lawson Lord
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.