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Webster-Parkman Murder Case


WEBSTER-PARKMAN MURDER CASE. John White Webster, a professor at Harvard College and lecturer at the medical school, was convicted on 30 March 1850 of the murder of Dr. George Parkman, a wealthy benefactor of the school and a prominent citizen of Boston. Webster was hanged in August 1850. The chief witness against him was Ephraim Littlefield, a janitor who found parts of Parkman's dismembered body in a waste-disposal vault at the medical school. Webster had been in debt to Parkman and had dishonestly sold property pledged as security. In a confession, supposedly obtained after his conviction, Webster attributed the crime to anger brought on by Parkman's attempts to deal with the situation. This confession, suspicions about the janitor's behavior, and several aspects of the trial have remained subjects of controversy to this day.


Schama, Simon. Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations. New York: Knopf, 1991.

Sullivan, Robert. The Disappearance of Dr. Parkman. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.

Thomson, Helen. Murder at Harvard. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.

Robert E.Moody/c. p.

See alsoCrime .

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