Blood & Ink: The Scandalous Jazz Age Double Murder That Hooked America on True Crime
New York Times Editor's Pick & Best True Crime of 2022
Blood & Ink is among 2022's best works of true crime. --The Washington Post
Vanity Fair's Joe Pompeo investigates the notorious 1922 double murder of a high-society minister and his secret mistress, a Jazz Age mega-crime that propelled tabloid news in the 20th century.
On September 16, 1922, the bodies of Reverend Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills were found beneath a crabapple tree on an abandoned farm outside of New Brunswick, New Jersey. The killer had arranged the bodies in a pose conveying intimacy.
The murder of Hall, a prominent clergyman whose wife, Frances Hall, was a proud heiress with illustrious ancestors and ties to the Johnson & Johnson dynasty, would have made headlines on its own. But when authorities identified Eleanor Mills as a choir singer from his church married to the church sexton, the story shocked locals and sent the scandal ricocheting around the country, fueling the nascent tabloid industry. This provincial double murder on a lonely lover's lane would soon become one of the most famous killings in American history--a veritable crime of the century.
The bumbling local authorities failed to secure any indictments, however, and it took a swashbuckling crusade by the editor of a circulation-hungry Hearst tabloid to revive the case and bring it to trial at last.
Blood & Ink freshly chronicles what remains one of the most electrifying but forgotten murder mysteries in U.S. history. It also traces the birth of American tabloid journalism, pandering to the masses with sordid tales of love, sex, money, and murder.
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About the Author
Joe Pompeo is a correspondent at Vanity Fair, where he covers the media industry. He previously worked at publications including Politico and The New York Observer, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Columbia Journalism Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his family.