Sympathy for the Devil The Emmanuel Baptist Murders of Old

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