The Sensational Murder of Helen Jewett
Those newspapers that had speculated about Robinsons guilt criticized the verdict as a terrible injustice. They thought he should now be tried for arson, to skip around the rule of double jeopardy. James Gordon Bennett did not concur. He merely wrote, The publication and perusal of evidence in this trial will kindle up fires that nothing can quench. He hoped that now that prostitution in the city had been so flagrantly exposed, men who had frequented the
Andrew Roth, who provides a tour of
Richard Robinson walked away a free man. Yet he did not stay in the city. Instead he went to
Helens real murderer was never apprehended.
Rumors had it that her body did not rest easily. Supposedly resurrectionists or medical students exhumed her, defleshed her bones, and used her skeleton as a medical exhibit. She and Robinson did become part of a wax chamber of horrors that traveled along the East Coast, warning other young men and women of the consequences of such morally impure lives.
Seven years after the murder, Joseph Holt Ingraham published Frank Rivers, Or the Dangers of the Town. It was a fictionalized account that contrasted masculine nature prone to sexual error against the seductions of feminine nature, which could only be pure or depraved. He apparently viewed the murder as an unfortunate accident, with the theme that a man may sin but does not thereby lose his basic moral nature, while a fallen woman is incapable of either remorse or redemption.
As with the trial, the attitude of the day was that men could be absolved of their sexual transgressions (including murder) because female sexuality inspired it.