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Pearl Bryan: chapter three continued

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Pearl Bryan
Secret London
Murder Ballads

The amount of blood spilt at John Lock's orchard and the fact that it had spurted so high into the surrounding privet bushes established that as the spot where Pearl was killed. Mud from that orchard had been found on a jacket and a pair of trousers known to belong to Jackson, which he'd been very anxious police should never find. Various items of Pearl's clothing or effects were found after her death either in the pockets of Jackson's discarded coat or in the room he shared with Walling.
Pearl's killer had taken her severed head away with him when he left the murder scene, and that head was still missing. Deitsch had three tavern owners who'd seen Jackson with Pearl's tan leather bag soon after her death, two of whom were convinced there'd been something heavy and round inside it. That something had gone by the time Jackson returned the bag to Legner's on the Monday, leaving just its blood-soaked lining, some more mud from the murder scene and a few privet leaves inside.
Jackson and Walling each claimed the other had committed the murder, but every copper's instinct made Jackson the more likely candidate. By his own confession, though, Walling had helped to deliver the girl to Jackson on the fatal night, and helped Jackson dispose of some very damning evidence afterwards. Johnson put him at Wallingford's tavern on the Friday night too, so perhaps he'd been more involved in the murder itself than he'd so far let on.
Deitsch could now account for Jackson and Pearl's movements until the moment they left Wallingford's saloon on Friday evening, and knew they'd both arrived at the orchard some time after that night's rain stopped at 10:30pm. All that was missing was some indication of how Jackson and Pearl had got across the river from Cincinnati to Fort Thomas on the night of her death and who, if anyone, had accompanied them. It wouldn't be long till Deitsch had an answer to those questions too.

Pearl's inquest was held on Tuesday, February 11, with Coroner Tingley struggling to subdue a large and unruly crowd of spectators in the Kentucky courtroom. "They overflowed outside the building, and it was necessary to provide extra police to control them," Doran reports.
All the medical evidence discussed above was heard, plus some additional testimony from the fort's Dr Heyl, who confirmed that Pearl's murderer must have some degree of basic medical training. The inquest jury found that the dead girl was Pearl Bryan, that she'd been given cocaine shortly before her death and that she'd still been alive when decapitation took place. When the court asked Crim who he thought had killed her, he replied without hesitation: "Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling". (20)

'The two of them dragged a woman out of the cab, and hauled her off into the bushes.'

It was around this time that Deitsch started getting reports someone had seen Jackson and Walling hire an elderly black carriage driver at the corner of George and Elm streets late on the night of the murder, and then driving off with him in the direction of Central Bridge. That corner was just one block from Wallingford's saloon, where Pearl had last been seen alive. "If this driver will come to us and tell his story, we will not only grant him immunity, but pay him a reward," Deitsch told the newspapers. (21)
A few days later, a patrolman called Ed Swain was passing one of the grand houses in Cincinnati's McGregor Avenue, when an old black groundsman working there called him over. The old man's name was George Jackson, and he nervously raised the subject of Pearl's killers and their mysterious driver. "Could they do anything to the fellow that hauled them across the river if it was shown that he was forced to do so at the point of a pistol?" he asked Swain. "If they find him, will he be hanged?"
The officer reassured him, saying that, assuming the carriage driver had committed no crime himself, the police would warmly welcome his help. Far from having anything to fear, Swain went on, the driver would be congratulated for helping to convict the killers. "Come back at 7:00 o'clock," George told him. "I may have something to tell you."
Swain returned to the spot at 7:00pm and heard a story which proved crucial to the whole investigation. The old man told him that he'd been talking with a group of his friends at the corner of George and Elm streets, when a white man walked up to them and asked if anyone there wanted to earn $5. "None of the others volunteered," he said, "so I finally asked him what he wanted done. 'Just drive me and another fellow to Newport,' he told me. I agreed to take the job, and then he told me that he was a doctor. He said that he and another doctor had to take a patient across the river."
George waited on the corner as he'd been asked to do and, about 45 minutes later, the same man drove up in a cab drawn by a grey horse. He handed over the reins to George, who took up position in the driving seat, and then joined the man and the woman already in the cab's rear section. These, George assumed, must be the second doctor and the sick girl he'd been told they were transporting. (22)
"When we got to Newport, the fellow who had hired me got out of the back and came up on the seat with me," George said. "Just then, I heard a woman groan in the cab, like she was in awful pain. I got scared and wanted to leave. The fellow on the seat drew a gun and said: 'If you get off this cab, I'll blow you to hell'. Then we drove on again, the fellow sitting beside me and telling me where to go.
"When we got out on Alexandria Pike, they told me to stop and, when I did, the fellow got down from the seat. The two of them dragged a woman out of the cab, and hauled her off the road. She moaned as they took her out, and then I heard her moan some more after they took her into the bushes." (23)
A moment later, the old man heard the girl give a terrible scream, and that was enough to turn his fear into outright panic. These guys weren't going to want any witnesses left around to describe their night's work.
"Now I was afraid they would kill me," he said. "I got scared, and jumped down off that cab. I hitched the horse with an iron weight, I started to run, and I never stopped till I got back to Cincinnati." Later he added: "I got home about 4 o'clock, and I went straight to bed and didn't say a thing to a living soul." In his haste to get down from the carriage and escape, George said, he'd dented the lamp on its left-hand side.

Kentucky: continued

This was housed in what I took to be a cluttered storeroom, but which the County Museum lady assured me was part of the museum's main exhibition space. There were a few framed newspaper pages on the wall, and a glass case containing the valise and a set of handcuffs worn by either Jackson or Walling as they mounted the scaffold.
    I asked the County Museum lady if she could open the case, saying innocently that I wanted to be sure my camera's flash didn't reflect in the glass. In fact, I was hoping to touch the valise for a second or - if she turned her back - stick my head inside and take a hefty lungful of its blood-musted air.
    Guessing wisely that I was not to be trusted, our guide lifted the padlock to make sure I'd seen it and explained she'd been unable to find the key.
    John took this as his opportunity to run through the details of just how careless the County people had been with Pearl's valise until he'd stepped in to ensure it got a proper display. Ostensibly, this was for my benefit, but I think he quite enjoyed forcing the County Museum lady to sit through it all again too. She endured the implied rebuke with a patient, if slightly frozen, smile.
    I took a quick snap of the museum's exterior while Debbie and John conferred on where we'd meet next. They decided on a lay-by near the spot where Pearl was killed. This was right next to what is now a fairly major road, but would then have been little more than a dark, deserted track.
    I crawled a few yards into the undergrowth at the spot John indicated, and communed for a moment with the tangle of leaves around me. "Did you feel it?" Debbie grinned as I stumbled back on to the road.
    We drove round the corner to John's house - his road backed onto the same spot from another direction - and John's wife Cyndi greeted us there. They didn't live in the house any more, preferring their horse farm in the country, but used it as premises for Cyndi's art school. The big kitchen table, where we all sat for coffee was surrounded by kids' drawings from her younger pupils, and the room next door stacked high with paintings from the school's recent exhibition.

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