Edward Earl: Murderer
Hope Falls

Many thanks to Clara Sue King and Elaine Scantlebury!

Brown's Barn where the murder occurred.
This murder story is one of tragedy in many ways.  Edward Earl came to Hope Falls from Virginia and married Mary the daughter of Rand Burgess in Oct 1868.  The couple's marriage was frought with difficulties stemming from both Edward's tendency to get drunk and Mary's infidelity.  However, the couple remained together for 10 years.  They had three children, two of which died young.  Earl adored the third and youngest child named June. 

After a violent quarrel over Mary's newest liason with George Brown, Edward's employer, Mary accused her husband of assaulting her with a knife for which he spent 3-1/2 years in Dannemore Prison.  However, Earl consistently claimed his innocence and his wife later signed a legal statement that her accusation was false.  But Earl carried a grudge against Mary from this time forward. 

He was released from prison on 19 Nov 1880 and remained estranged from his wife and child who were living with George.  On 14 Feb 1881 he begged for the custody of their child, June, which Mary refused and 3 days later he stole a 14 inch beam knife from a local tannery where he worked.  On the 16th he hid in Brown's barn while his wife entered the barn several times, twice coming within arm-length of his hiding place in the hay.  Hungry and cold he left the barn and spent that night at Rand Burgess' home. 

The next day he returned to the barn, but was discovered by Mary.  She pled for her life and he let her go, but before she was safely away she called out to her lover George and upon hearing that hateful name, Edward Earl proceded to stab her with the long blade which he drove nearly through the body of Mary Earl, severing the arteries around the heart.  Edward ran from the scene of the murder but later surrendered himself in Northville and was taken to the Hamilton County jail at Lake Pleasant on the 20th. 

On 22 Aug, he was convicted of murder and hanged on 14 Oct 1881.  On the scaffold he asked the men in the crowd of 1000 souls to give a kind word to his daughter if they ever met her.  He bore no ill will toward anyone, but simply wanted to die.  He was pronounced dead 9 mins after the weight of the gallows fell and was buried in the same cemetery as his wife, but not next to her.

Clara Sue King / Town of Hope Historian with
the knife that Edward Earl used to kill his wife.
  1. Pictures from Clara Sue King and Elaine Scantlebury
  2. Murder Story: "History of Hamilton County," by Ted Aber and Stella King, Great Wilderness Books, 1965, pages 244-8.  There is a lot more detail of this murder in this work that gives insight into the mind of Edward Earl based on his own writings during his imprisonment after the murder.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 14-May-2008 13:32:11 PDT
Copyright © 2000:  Clara_Sue_King / Elaine_Scantlebury