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The Curious Case of Not Townsend

June 9, 2019

Getting away with murder has always been a difficult, and ultimately, unlikely affair, even in the 19th Century, before DNA analysis, fingerprint databases, or even any real, proper detective agencies, it was still a challenge that many criminals tried and failed. There were some however, that did manage to achieve the feat, whether it be through cool calculation, or dumb luck, there was always opportunity for the enthusiastic murderer willing to think outside the box. In Canada during the mid-19th Century, one man, William Turner managed to commit and get away with murder, either through dumb luck, due to an unlikely double being framed for the crime, or through an incredible talent for acting. After more than 150 years, the question has always remained, which was it? Luck, or the long game?

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Townsend The Murderer. (1857, June 10). The Montreal Gazette, p. 3.

Stewart Wallace, W. (1931, April 15). The Townsend Case. Maclean’s, p. 19.

The Alleged Murderer Townsend - The Singular Circumstances of the case - And the Proofs of his Identity. (1857, June 10). The Montreal Gazette, p. 2.

The Alleged Murderer Townsend - The Singular Circumstances of the case - And the Proofs of his Identity. (1857, June 17). The Montreal Gazette, p. 2.

The Townsend Excitement on the Wane! (1857, September 26). The Montreal Gazette, p. 2.

Arraignment of McHenry alias Townsend. (1857, September 28). The Montreal Gazette, p. 2.

Gault, Robert H. (1918) Journal of the American Institute of Law and Criminology Vol. IX. Chicago. Northwestern University Press.


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Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017

Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that.