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August 30, 1850, Harvard Doctor Executed In Boston’s Leverett Square - Today in Crime History

On this day, August 30, in 1850, Harvard instructor, Dr. John W. Webster, was executed for the murder of Dr. George Parkman, a descendant of one of Boston's richest families. The murder of Dr. Parkman became a highly publicized crime, investigation and trial that shocked the city of Boston due to the crime's gruesome nature and the high social status of the victim and murderer.

A week after Dr. Parkman vanished, a janitor at the Harvard Medical College discovered a pelvis, a right thigh, and a lower left leg hidden in Webster's laboratory.  Later investigators found bone fragments and a jaw bone with teeth in a lab furnace used by Webster.  In a nearby chest an armless, headless, hairy and partly burned torso was located.  A thigh was found stuffed inside the torso.

Investigators also discovered that Webster owed Parkman money he had borrowed over the years to cover a lifestyle he could not afford, and Parkman had been hounding him for repayment.

Webster was convicted and sentenced to death.  Despite an outpouring of mail from across the nation asking that Webster’s life be spared, the Massachusetts governor refused to commute the sentence of death and Webster was publicly hanged in Boston's Leverett Square on August 30, 1850.

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