Saturday, July 01, 2017

Blackcat Book Club: Murder of a Herkimer County Teacher by Dennis Webster

In this installment of the Blackcat Book Club, I review the true crime novel Murder of a Herkimer County Teacher by local author and paranormal investigator Dennis Webster which is about the 1914 Jean Gianini murder case where Gianini stood trial for murdering his teacher Lida Beecher. The case is actually considered to be one of the first schoolteacher murders in American history. It was also the first murder case to deal with mental illness and the Binet Test was used in a murder trial for the first time.

So what does this have to do with Chester and Grace? Well, as it turns out. Plenty. For example, the same judge that presided over the Gillette case (Irving Devendorf) also presided over the Gianini murder case and one of Chester's defense attorneys, Charles Thomas served as a prosecutor in the Gianini case. There was also the fact that Gianini stayed in the same cell in the 1834 Herkimer County Jail that Chester stayed in during his trial eight years earlier. There was also the fact that Gianini idolized Chester. At one point, Gianini even bragged about wanting to be a railroad brakeman like Chester was before the latter moved to New York state. However, while Chester went to the electric chair, Gianini on the other hand was found not guilty due to insanity and spent the rest of his life in mental institutions living to be ninety years old.

All in all, this book is a pretty good read. If you live in the Central New York area, it is available at your local historical society. It's also available at Amazon and also through its publishing company where you also get it as an e-book.