Epub Sympathy for the Devil The Emmanuel Baptist Murders of Old Þ publitags.co

On the day before Easter Sunday 1895 four women entered the Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco's Mission District to decorate the altar with flowers When they opened the door to the little room containing the library they were greeted with a horrible sight the stabbed and strangled body of 21 year old Minnie Williams her blood coating the floor and spattering the walls A search of the church revealed another grisly discovery in the belfry the decomposing body of another young woman reported as missing ten days before She too had been strangled But unlike the victim in the library Blanche Lamont was lovingly laid out as if for burial Clues led the police to a friend of both victims a medical student who was also the assistant superintendent of the church's Sunday school But those who knew Theo Durrant denied that this highly respectable young man could have had anything to do with these horrible crimesThe young man who committed these two apparently motiveless murders was depicted by the popular press at the time as a monster a devil in disguise only pretending to be religious McConnell demonstrates that he was exactly what he seemed to be a genuinely good man whose life went terribly wrong because of the biological genetic and mental problems from which he suffered problems he was not even aware of Sympathy for the Devil examines the extensive and sensational press coverage of the case criticized by the Governor and by the California Supreme Court the effect of the murders on San Francisco and also analyzes what turned an apparently upstanding young man into a vicious murderer


10 thoughts on “Sympathy for the Devil The Emmanuel Baptist Murders of Old San Francisco

  1. says:

    In April 1895 two young women followed a man they trusted into the Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco’s Mission District and did not emerge alive The bloody disfigured corpse of 21 year old Minnie Williams was found in the library the day before Easter Sunday and soon afterward searchers discovered the naked body of Blanche Lamont who had been missing since April 3 in the belfry Clues and witness statements directed the police to Theo Durrant a young medical student who also happened to be assistant Sunday School superintendent for the church Durrant’s murder trial was attended by such eminent spectators as Presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan and Gold Rush millionaire John Mackay The evidence against him was so overwhelming that the jury brought in a guilty verdict in less than half an hour While his January 1898 execution brought closure to the families of Minnie Williams and Blanche Lamont it also left a lot of unanswered uestions Why did he kill two young women whom he’d known well and never born any malice against? And what motivated a man who had been devoted to his parents and sister and active in church affairs to commit murder in the first place? The press hinted that he was a depraved monster disguised as a pious youth and referred to him as ‘the Demon in the Belfry’ In Sympathy for the Devil Virginia McConnell uestions the justice of these assumptions I’ll admit that when I began reading the book I had doubts about McConnell’s impartiality in the introduction she wrote “His two tragic deeds aside I would have been proud to call him ‘brother’ or ‘friend’” But unlike the mindless adoring women who simpered over Theo Durrant during his courtroom appearances McConnell has credible reasons for her partiality Reviewing his family and medical history she points out that his father was manic depressive and prone to impulsive actions and Durrant himself nearly died from meningitis or ‘brain fever’ a condition that often left survivors with brain damage She suggests that he may have been in a manic phase when he killed the two women and the behaviour he exhibited at that time corresponds to the profile louaciousness impulsivity and unnatural energy levels When not in the throes of the disorder Durrant was apparently a mild mannered caring individual who placed women on a pedestal Sympathy for the Devil is a sympathetic but not sentimental treatment of the Emmanuel Baptist murders It includes rare and unsettling photos such as a vibrant young Blanche Lamont the belfry landing where her nude body was found and the blood spattered walls of the room where Minnie Williams met her death Any future books about the case have a very high bar to leap over


  2. says:

    In the first 12 days of february I have read a lot but apparently I forgot to review the books I read not did I add them to the having read shelfThis was one I bought secondhand of which I received a hardback copy and I am glad I did Thought it a well written book I liked that it had uite a few photos Not sure if I agreed with the analysis of the murdered at the end of the book but a very interesting read This is the area where newspapers were very competitive and combative where it all started Newspapers hired their own people who basically did the same as cops did only they did not have to hold themselves to facts only so there were many stories in the papers that consisted of untruth Well it is the case now as well although I remember when i was younger news was still that news Unbiased or maybe I thought it was and I grew up ;


  3. says:

    Very well researched well written account of the Emmanuel Baptist Murders The author debunked all of the myths surrounding this crime


  4. says:

    True crime particularly when the crime happened a long time ago is somehow a perfect read when you're feeling sick this book fit the bill in much the same way that PD James' The Maul and the Pear Tree did a few years agoThe murders of Blanche and Millie took place in April 1895 in San Francisco so there was no way to process the crime scenes in a modern sense no Bones no CSI and no BAU to profile the murderer Instead there was a lot of circumstantial evidence conflicting witness statements and two newspapers to whip the public into a frenzy Ms McConnell does a great job of sorting through all this and of pointing out where modern court cases and murder investigations differ from what happenedIn the beginning of the book however she suggests that Theo Durrant was not the murderer that there were other eually plausible suspects; by the end of the book however she seems to have changed her mind There are two others who might have done one or both murders and it would have been interesting to explore that a little Perhaps the lack of documents due to the age of the crimes the difference in what evidence was collected back then and the 1906 earthuake destroying some of the records prevented her from pursuing that


  5. says:

    I do not usually read true crime books but in this case the famous murderer shares my surname so curiosity drew me in Theo Durrant murdered two young women in a San Francisco church in 1895 Three things make this case noteworthy first nothing in Durrant's previous behavior points toward such violence in fact he seems to have been a decent hard working chap; second although almost certainly guilty he proclaimed his innocence right up to the moment he was hanged; and third the sensational nature of the case highlights just how competitive intrusive and irresponsible the press could be at that time making today's much maligned press seem almost a model of restraint Sympathy for the Devil is carried forward by the intriguing true story it relates but McConnell insists on including characters and details than this sometimes confused reader could possibly track But her reconstruction of the crime and speculation as to how Durrant could have come to commit these murders made the read worthwhile Oh yes so far as I have been able to ascertain Theo Durrant is not my relative


  6. says:

    One of the things I particularly liked about this historical true crime story was that the author hypothesized as to the perpetrator's motive Normally I don't like fiction speculation in my non fiction but this was such a shocking and uncharacteristic crime yet the perpetrator was practically caught red handed what could possibly have driven him to commit murder? The author underpins her theory with a solid base of facts and you can tell a lot of thought and research went into this book Despite the historical distance I felt the crime was definitely solved


  7. says:

    If I could I'd rate this 35 stars It was obviously well researched and I enjoyed the historical aspects of the crime the trial and the media's coverage On the negative side sometimes the book felt like a recitation of facts than a cohesive story And while I'm usually okay with loose ends it bothered me that there really was no answer to the uestion why?


  8. says:

    An interesting read He was guilty


  9. says:

    The author was my instructor for a recent English class I took here in eastern Washington She did a great job of putting fresh insight into this old San Francisco murder