Primary Sources: A Body in the Medical College
The Evening Herald
Boston, Saturday, November 30,  12M.
The Body of Dr. George Parkman Found, Murdered and Cut Up in the Medical College -- Arrest of Professor Webster, charged with the Diabolical Deed -- Tremendous Excitement -- A Riot Anticipated
A rumor has been in circulation for several days past, that there were strong grounds for believing that Dr. Parkman (about whom there has recently been so much agitation in the public mind) had been murdered by a person with whom he was seen in the company on the day of his disappearance, and that his body was then in a pit in one of the hospitals in the city. We endeavored to trace this report to some foundation, but our efforts proved futile, and we were compelled to think of this as of the thousand and one other rumors started since the Doctor's mysterious absence, utterly unworthy of belief.
It seems, however, that there was at least sufficient credence placed upon the rumor by the head of the police, to have a watch established about the suspected place, with instructions to proceed cautiously to take such steps as might tend to unravel the almost impenetrable mystery.
This watch were unable to discover anything unusual about the premises, and were on the point of relinquishing their observations, when a person named Littlefield (who we learn is attached to the college) having his suspicions fully aroused, went to work and began to cut through a brick wall into a vault where he found the lower portion of a human body. This was examined, and pronounced to be a part of the body of Dr. Parkman. The room over this was then broken into, and the legs and abdomen of the Doctor discovered in a water closet. All this took place in the private room of Dr. Webster, or in its immediate vicinity. The flesh from a part of the bones had apparently been cut off, and it is supposed consumed. In the furnace of the laboratory were found a jaw bone, teeth, and other human bones, calcined by the heat. One of the teeth corresponds with that of one of Dr. Parkman's, as it was filled with gold in a peculiar manner around the edges.
Dr. Webster is a Professor of Anatomy in the College, and as far as the examination has at present progressed, there is no way been found by which the remains could have been placed in the position in which it was discovered, except by raising the flooring in the Professor's room.
The facts which appear to implicate Professor Webster as the murderer of Dr. Parkman, are first, that on the Friday of the Dr.'s disappearance, he was seen by several persons to enter the Medical College. 2dly, Professor Webster told the Rev. Dr. Parkman, brother of the deceased, that he (Webster) had paid the defunct the sum of $470 on a mortgage of personal property, on the very day, and about the time he was last seen. But when asked to exhibit the receipt for the money paid, he said that he had taken none. Yesterday the Professor called on Mr. Waterman, tinman, in Court street, and ordered a lead or tin box to be manufactured for him, the top of which he was to sodder on himself. The box was to be sent to Cambridge when it was finished.
It is said also that when Professor Webster was arrested yesterday, he manifested the utmost trepidation, then called for a glass of water, and having by great exertion swallowed a small quantity immediately vomited it up again. His conduct at the jail was that of a maniac.
Dr. Webster is about fifty years of age, has a wife and five children, and has hitherto borne an unblemished character. His family, of course, are in a state of deepest agony.
It has been ascertained that Dr. Parkman, just before going into the college had purchased some articles of food at a provision store, near the college, saying that he would call for them shortly which he did not do.
Suspicion was first directed to the Professor's room on account of the fact that a fire had been kept constantly burning there for the past week, and even, ever since the excitement. Such a circumstance was, in this case unusual, as there had been no fire in that room for a long time previous.
Since the excitement attendant upon the disappearance of Dr. Parkman, Professor Webster has kept his room carefully locked, which occasioned some suspicion on the part of those who have succeeded in partially unraveling this dreadful mystery.
An examination is now going on at the College to ferret out the whole affair. The greatest excitement pervadrs [sic]the public mind on the subject, and it is supposed that the building will be torn down.
The proofs implicating Professor Webster increase with almost every hour. Robert G. Shaw, Esq., and Mr. Dexter, and the friends and relatives of the deceased generally, are using every exertion to the end that the person guilty of this foul and atrocious deed shall be brought to punishment.
The present affair (supposing Professor Webster to be the real murderer) bears a great resemblance in its details, to the murder of Samuel Adams by John C. Colt, in the city of New York, some years since; and which produced an excitement only equaled in intensity, by that which now agitates our community.
previous | return to primary sources | next