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Primary Sources: A Committee Investigates

Newspaper headline - 'Reported Suicide of Webster Untrue!' Boston Evening Herald
Fourth Edition
Saturday, December 1 [1849]

The Dreadful Murder Of Dr. Parkman
Later and Fuller Particulars
Reported Suicide of Webster Untrue!
The Military Ordered to be in Readiness to Repel any Attack on the College.

On Friday last, between one and two o'clock, Dr. Parkman stopped at a grocery store owned by him in Cambridge street. He there left a small bag of lettuce seed, and ordered sugar and other articles for his family. When he left, he stated to the grocer that he should return in five minutes for the bag, as he was only going to the hospital in Grove Street.

The Dr. was seen to enter the Hospital by several individuals, but no person can be found who saw him come out. His person is well known in that vicinity, and it would have been almost an impossibility for him to leave the Hospital at that time of day, without being seen and recognized by some person.

Attempts have been made to trace the Dr. to Cambridge, immediately after leaving the College, but those who know Dr. Parkman's correct habits, were persuaded that he would not have uudertaken [sic] to go there, so near to his dinner hour and when in the immediate vicinity of his house.

Prof. Webster came into town on Sunday last and visited the college, a circumstance very unusual with him. He stated to parties with whom he conversed, that seeing a notice in the evening papers of Dr. Parkman's disappearance, he came into town for the purpose of notifying the family, where, when, and how he last saw him.

Prof. Webster said that he owed Dr. Parkman a personal mortgage, and that, between the hours of one and two o'clock on Friday he (Professor Webster) paid Dr. Parkman the sum of $483,62, for which he took a receipt. Mr. Webster said that Dr. Parkman appeared as usual, and he noticed nothing particular or singular in his behavior different from his ordinary habits.

From other sources we learn that the mortgage was over due, and had been over due some considerable time; that Dr. Parkman had pressed the Professor for payment, which had been promised several times, but it was not forthcoming.

In this state of facts, it is not unreasonable to suppose that -- as rumor has already asserted -- an altercation took place. What passed within the walls of that private room, no man may ever know, but it is reduced to a certainty, almost absolute, that Dr. Parkman never crossed the threshold of that door.

From many circumstances that have transpired during the week suspicion have been strongly and unceasingly directed towards Prof. Webster. His altered manner, his extreme nervousness, his absent mindedness; all tending to prove some powerful causes operating upon his mind.

His door has been carefully locked during the week, and no person has been permitted to open it. This is contrary to his usual practice and the custom which he has generally followed of allowing free ingress and egress to his rooms, on all proper occasions.

In the College there is a vault, into which the offal arising from dissection is thrown. In Prof. Webster's private room there is another vault used by him to throw the residuum of his laboratory, arising from chemical experiments given in his lectures to students.

This vault was used for that express purpose and no other. Professor Webster was not connected with the department of anatomy. He had nothing to do with it. In that vault, no offal from bodies could possibly get there. It had no right there, much less any distinguishable portion of a human body.

But in this private vault, the lower part of the body of a man has been found.

The circumstances under which this astounding discovery have been made, we have already alluded to. This morning the official authorities, together with the relatives and friends of the deceased assembled at the college and proceeded to extricate the remains so found.

After the closest investigation, the committee and authorities were forcibly led to the painful conclusion that the mangled remnants before them were those of their missing father and friend. A discovery calculated to fill them with profound grief and horror.

The committee of investigation are yet in session. Their proceedings are conducted with the greatest secrecy, and we, of course, are unable to give any idea of their nature or extent or to say what additional evidence has been produced.

The Marshal has ordered all Police to be on the watch for any signal that may be made from Head Quarters , as previously agreed on. There is much excitement among the Irish population on account of the suspicions that were attached to an Irishman, at the same time of Dr. Parkman's first disappearance, and it is reported that many threats of vengeance have been expressed by them. The excitement consequent on these faces is beyond belief, every body is speaking of the subject, and the business seems to have received a paralytic shock.

We learn that a roller has been found in Dr. Webster's room clotted with blood; but in the midst of the intense excitement we hardly know what to credit.

The agitation is as fearful as that which existed in New York on the day the murderer Colt cheated the gallows by stabbing himself to the heart.

P.S. The Mayor has sent word to Col. Andrews, to have his regiment in readiness for any emergency.

It is rumored that Prof. Webster has committed suicide. We learn that report is incorrect.

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