The Legs Murder Scandal

By Hunter Cole
Postscript by Elizabeth Spencer

392 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 41 b&w images, 1 map, chronology, postscript, index

978-1-60473-722-6 Cloth $38.00T

978-1-61703-300-1 Paper $22.00T

978-1-60473-723-3 Ebook $22.00

Cloth, $38.00

Paper, $22.00

Ebook 978-1-60473-723-3, $22.00

Matricide, mutilation, and mayhem--Mississippi's great crime story of the 1930s

In Laurel, Mississippi, in 1935, a daughter in a wealthy and troubled family stood accused of murdering her mother. On her testimony, authorities arrested an equally prominent and well-to-do businessman, her reputed lover and accomplice. Ouida Keeton apparently shot her mother, chopped her up, and disposed of most of the corpse down the toilet and in the fireplace, burning all but the pelvic region and the thighs. Attempting to dispose of these remains on a one-lane, isolated road, Ouida left a trail of evidence that ended in her arrest. Witnesses had seen her driving there. Within hours, a hunter and his dogs found the body parts and the cloth in which she had wrapped them.

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. The Legs Murder Scandal 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 did Ouida Keeton really do with the rest of her mother? The Legs Murder Scandal attempts to provide the reader with clarity in this story, which at once is outlandish, harrowing, and intriguing. This new paperback edition provides an index as well as revealing and previously unpublished photographs offered to the author by readers and locals eager to add to this grisly, consuming tale.

Hunter Cole, Brandon, Mississippi, was associate director and marketing manager of the University Press of Mississippi at the time of his retirement in 2003.

392 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 41 b&w images, 1 map, chronology, postscript, index