The Legs Murder Scandal
The full story of "Mississippi's Lizzie Borden" and the sensational matricide that mystified the nation
In Laurel, Mississippi, in 1935, one daughter of a wealthy and troubled family stood accused of murdering her mother. On her testimony, authorities suspected an equally prominent and well-to-do businessman, her reputed lover, of assisting. Ouida Keeton apparently shot her mother, chopped her up, and disposed of most of her body parts down the toilet and in the fireplace, burning all but the pelvic region, the thighs, and the legs. Attempting to dispose of these remains on a narrow, one-lane, isolated road, Ouida left a trail of evidence that ended in her arrest. People had seen her driving to the road. Within hours, a hunter and his dogs found the cloth in which she had wrapped her mother’s legs.
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. With The Legs Murder Scandal, Hunter Cole 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, really, did Ouida Keeton do with the rest of her mother? The Legs Murder Scandal attempts to provide the reader with clarity in this story, which is outlandish, harrowing, and intriguing, all at once.
With careful research, leaving no detail unexplored, no stone unturned, Hunter Cole has reconstructed the entire sequence of the murder from start to finish. The reader becomes like the jury, hearing, seeing, and judging. After this conclusive report, no guesses could remain as to what exactly took place. Hunter Cole's present book will both attract and draw the reader into its compelling whirlpool of horror.- Elizabeth Spencer
This is one grisly read from beginning to end. Ouida Keeton, Mississippi's own Lizzie Borden, was largely forgotten until Hunter Cole resurrected her story and brought it to life in The Legs Murder Scandal. Cole's meticulous research of court transcripts, newspaper clippings, and medical records leaves nothing to the imagination. We watch the crime unfold as he uncovers one gruesome fact after the other. It's easy to see why the trials of Ouida and her lover, W. M. Carter, held the nation spellbound in 1935. Cole has given us a horror story of mythical proportions.- Dean Faulkner Wells