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Jun 12 Hall Mills Murder Trial Play
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Hall Mills Murder Trial Play

When: Wednesday, June 12, 2019
6:00 PM until 8:30 PM
Where: Somerset County Courthouse
Somerville, New Jersey  08876
United States
Presenter: See description below
Contact: 732-645-4300, x.88410

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The Trial of the Century

The Hall Mills Murder Trial


Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall, an Episcopal priest, and Eleanor Mills, a married member of the choir at his church, were involved in an affair that was an open secret in New Brunswick, NJ. On September 14, 1922 they were brutally murdered. Hall had a single bullet wound in the head.  Mills had been shot three times, her throat cut, and her tongue and larynx removed.  Their bodies were discovered two days later in a local lovers’ lane.  They were staged in an intimate pose, lying side by side, her head resting on his right arm.  His face was covered by his Panama hat and his calling card was standing on edge near his foot.  Torn up love letters that the two had exchanged were scattered between their lifeless bodies.  Suspicion quickly fell upon Reverend Hall's widow, Frances Stevens Hall, who came from a prominent New Brunswick family with ties to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. It was widely suspected that she had set up the murder with the help of her brothers, Henry and the eccentric Willie.  There was also speculation that the Stevens family used their wealth to influence certain witnesses.  Prosecutors could not find enough evidence to indict Frances, Willie and Henry and the case went cold.


Four years later interest in the case was revived, a special prosecutor was appointed, indictments were issued, and one of the strangest trials in New Jersey was soon underway.  The Hall Mills Murder Trial, prosecuted in 1926, had all the elements of a scintillating novel: adultery, murder, high society, incest, revenge, and badly mishandled evidence. Over 200 news reporters from around the country covered the case, making it the “Trial of Century.”  The trial lasted a month.  There were 157 witnesses, including the “Pig Woman” who testified from a hospital gurney in the courtroom (see photo above).  It took the jury just five hours to acquit the defendants on all charges. The Hall Mills Murder Case remains unsolved to this very day.


The Aldona E. Appleton American Family Law Inn of Court is sponsoring a one-act dramatization of this intriguing trial.  It will be held on June 12, 2019 at 6pm in the Somerset County Courthouse, Somerville, New Jersey.  The play will be staged in the very same courtroom that the original trial was conducted.  The play is free, and open to the public.  Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

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