October 25, 1872
Northwood, New Hampshire
13-year-old Georgianna Lovering is raped and murdered by her great-uncle
Franklin Evans was staying with his sister and her husband in Northwood at the same time the couple’s granddaughter was visiting. During this time, Evans made “improper advances” on his teenaged grandniece. He also set up traps in the woods to trap partridges and, on October 25, convinced Georgianna to check on the traps. She was seen entering the woods, but was not seen alive again.
When Georgianna did not arrive home in a timely manner, a search was conducted in the woods where her apron and a broken comb of hers was found. Suspicion immediately fell upon Evans, though he denied any knowledge. After questioning, Evans said he would reveal information under the promise he would be not be harmed and confessed a man named Aaron Webster had used Evans’ assistance in kidnapping the girl, and police went to question the man. Unfortunately, no one by that name was in the city Evans mentioned, so he suggested it was a similarly named city. Again, no one by that name was known and Evans offered yet another city, but by this time police grew weary of Evans’ misdirection.
Sheriff Henry Drew asked Evans “In the hearing of no persons but us two and the Great Being above, I ask you this question: Is the body of the girl cold in death?” to which Evans replied after a pause “It is, Mr. Drew. I have done wrong.” Evans, believing his previous promise from the sheriff that he should be unharmed extended to a sort of immunity of prosecution, lead Drew to the location of Georgianna’s body. It was determined she was strangled to death and her sexual organs and a piece of her bladder had been cut from her body, likely to hide any evidence of rape.
After just 2 days of trial and 45 minutes of deliberation, Evans was found guilty and sentenced to death. In the time between his conviction and execution, many detectives and reporters visited him to solve cases in the New England area which had similarities to the murder of Georgianna. He was linked to several murders and rapes of young girls including a 9-year-old whose neck was sliced so deeply her head was nearly severed and a 14-year-old girl who was raped and stabbed 27 times in the abdomen, likely to conceal evidence of rape, and the girl’s 12-year-old brother who was petrified by the attack and unable to flee before he was stabbed to death as well. Evans also spoke of Georgianna’s death as a sort of self-defense. He claimed she often got drunk and had “shameful intercourse” with 3 young men and had had consensual sex with Evans before blackmailing him about it, so he murdered her to keep her from talking.
Evans was executed on February 17, 1874.
Evans’ body on the dissecting table at Dartmouth College