Sinister Minister – Reverend Hall House

In the 1920’s the Hall-Mills Murder case, nicknamed “The Minister and the Choir Singer”, was dubbed the crime of the century. To this day, it remains an unsolved case. According to the Crime Library account, it was a tale of murder, lies, deceit, and cover-ups. The address 23 Nichols Avenue was listed as the residence of Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall, the famous minister who was having an open affair with the married Eleanor R. Mills. The suspects were many, the family members who disapproved, the jealous and/or angry parish members of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the media hungry locals. Among the suspects were Frances Noel Stevens, the rich wife of Reverend Hall who was related to the prominent Johnson and Johnson family, her brother Willie Stevens, a 50-year old dependent suffering from mental problems, her other brother Henry Stevens, a 52-year old expert marksman, and her cousin Henry Carpender, who lived two residences away from the Hall House. Others accused the Ku Klux Klan, a hired assassin, and Eleanor’s husband James among others. There were paid off cops, including a dirty one who was serving time in Alcatraz, the infamous “pig lady” who accused Carpender, claiming to have heard the shots and seen the whole thing go down (later accused as a liar), the incompetent investigators at the scene who allowed the public to handle key evidence, the multiple autopsies, and the outrageous trials – and then there was the murder scene. Reverend Hall and Eleanor Mills were laid out in full attire under a crab apple tree on De Russey’s Lane, which also happened to be Lover’s Lane. They were discovered several days after the murder, with shredded love letters between the two scattered about the bodies. He was shot in the head once and her three times, in addition to her tongue being cut out and her throat being slit from ear to ear.

The residence of Reverend and Frances Hall at 23 Nichols Ave is now the residence of the Dean of Douglass College at 23 Nichol Ave. With so many of the suspects acquitted of the crime, it is still a case that draws much discussion. If one of the members of the Reverend’s household, such as Frances Hall or one of her brothers (or some combination of people) did commit the murder, some believe that the weapon is buried within the confines of the household, possibly in the walls after the house was reconstructed. Reverend Hall is currently buried next to his wife in Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, while Eleanor Mills is buried next to her husband James and daughter Charlotte at Van Liew Cemetery in New Brunswick, NJ. It is interesting to note that Nichol Ave is the same street as the Little Theater, which is being investigated by Rutgers Rarities as a site of hauntings.

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