The Legs Murder Scandal

The Legs Murder Scandal

HUNTER COLE
POSTSCRIPT BY ELIZABETH SPENCER
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt12f4s9
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  • Book Info
    The Legs Murder Scandal
    Book Description:

    In Laurel, Mississippi, in 1935, one daughter of a wealthy and troubled family stood accused of murdering her mother. On her testimony, authorities suspected an equally prominent and well-to-do businessman, her reputed lover, of assisting. Ouida Keeton apparently shot her mother, chopped her up, and disposed of most of her body parts down the toilet and in the fireplace, burning all but the pelvic region, the thighs, and the legs. Attempting to dispose of these remains on a narrow, one-lane, isolated road, Ouida left a trail of evidence that ended in her arrest. People had seen her driving to the road. Within hours, a hunter and his dogs found the cloth in which she had wrapped her mother's legs.Touted as the most sensational crime in Mississippi history at the time, the Legs Murder of 1935 is almost entirely forgotten today. The controversial outcome, decided by an unsophisticated jury, has been left muddled by ambiguity. With The Legs Murder Scandal, Hunter Cole presents an intricately detailed description of the separate trials of Ouida Keeton and W.M. Carter. Having researched trial transcripts, courthouse records, medical files, and vast newspaper coverage, the author reveals new facts previously distorted by hearsay, hushed reports, and misinformation. Cole pursues many unanswered questions such as what, really, did Ouida Keeton do with the rest of her mother? The Legs Murder Scandal attempts to provide the reader with clarity in this story, which is outlandish, harrowing, and intriguing, all at once.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-723-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. THE LEGS MURDER SCANDAL
    (pp. 1-362)

    Who now could make her out, this home-loving girl devoted to her vigilant mother? One was seldom seen without the other. Yet the daughter had secrets, and she carried them closely and never uttered a word about them.

    The full moon of Saturday had begun its wane. On Monday night, howling winds diffused murky clouds of chimney smoke over the neighborhood and across the moon’s beaming face, and before daybreak the frightening bluster was pounding on the windows and doors as though her mother were on the porch, demanding to be let in. The dying gusts blew up a misty...

  3. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 363-378)

    But this is not really a ghost tale. Ouida, W. M. Carter, and Daisy Keeton were not characters in fiction, but actual, living beings well known in a little southern town and vividly reported in its history. The Legs Murder case is a story of revenge, of payback, of a willing young beauty in the grip of her predator, and of the predator in the constricting coils of a madwoman. Most of the facts about them can be found in public records scattered in Laurel and Jackson. When connected with the medical reports, they recount the biography of Mississippi’s own...

  4. POSTSCRIPT
    (pp. 379-380)
    Elizabeth Spencer

    Lurid and macabre, the “Legs Murder Case” claimed the attention, not only of Mississippi but of the whole nation and beyond. Why would a beautiful young woman, well-to-do, and devotedly living with her mother, take up a poker one winter night and hit her over the head? The blow was not lethal, so Ouida Keeton shot her. What to do next but chop her up and burn her? Some remaining parts (legs) she dumped on a country road, where a rabbit hunter with dogs immediately found them. Was she insane? The trial proved nothing of the sort. She was clever...

  5. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 381-382)