September 3, 1878
Rockland, Connecticut
Rev. H. H. Hayden provides his mistress with a drink containing enough arsenic to kill 25 people, then knocks her unconscious with a rock and slices her throats when she begins screaming, because he believed he had impregnated her

Rev. Hayden was a married man with children when he began his affair with Mary Stannard (22). When she believed she had become pregnant, she asked Rev. Hayden to assist in helping her with an abortion. He agreed to get her some medicine and on September 3 the pair met in a secluded area. Rev. Hayden made Stannard’s “medicine” by dissolving an ounce of arsenic in water which she drank. Within 30 minutes, Stannard knew something was wrong and in another 15 she was screaming in agony. She attempted to run back home but the reverend hit her in the head with a rock (some sources suggest it was a wooden log or plank), rendering her unconscious. He then used his jackknife to cut her throat and positioned her body in a restful state to appear as though she committed suicide.

Stannard’s body was discovered the following day and Rev. Hayden was arrested after Stannard’s sister notified police of Mary’s plan to meet with Rev. Hayden the day of her murder. During Stannard’s autopsy it was revealed that she was not pregnant at all but suffering from an ovarian cyst.

During trial, the defense gained leverage from the reverend’s wife tearfully testifying her faith in Rev. Hayden’s innocence. They also continually pressed each expert’s testimony regarding scientific evidence, asking if the experts absolutely held no doubts with their findings. As scientific evidence does not deal well with absolutes, the experts could not agree to the question, discrediting them in the eyes of many of the jurors.

During deliberations, the jurors first voted 10-2 in favor of acquittal. A further 9 votes brought a vote of 11-1 in favor of acquittal with a farmer named David Hotchkiss never wavering from his belief Rev. Hayden was guilty. The trial was declared a mistrial and the state feared another lengthy, expensive trial may end with the same result, so Rev. Hayden was released. He died in 1907 of cancer.

(Illustrations from The Rev. H. H. Hayden: An Autobiography, 1880)

Horrific history from today:
1902: Farmer’s reception drives off President’s son (2017)
1925: Crash of the Shenandoah (2017)
1998: Mother strangles 6 children before attempting suicide (2017)
1927: Man depressed over his unemployment kills 8, is wounded in shootout with police (2018)

Horror-related anniversaries:
Today in Horror History: September 3

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