CLEWS featured a bit of the story of an extraordinary female attorney in New York by the name of Grace Humiston in How the Feminine Sherlock Holmes Solved the Disappearance of Ruth Cruger. Now I am advised that a new book will feature more of her story. I received this lovely note from the author announcing a tale with Grace Humiston in a prominent role. I had never heard of the Stielow case before but it certainly sounds as though it, too, deserves to be rescued from obscurity.
* * *
Dear Ms. James:
I remember some time ago you were bemoaning the lack of any authoritative details on the life of Grace Humiston. Thought you might like to know that my new book SLAUGHTER ON A SNOWY MORN: A Tale of Murder, Corruption and the Death Penalty Case that Revolutionized the American Courtroom (Icon Books; Amazon) helps to set the record straight.
It tells the harrowing story of Charles Stielow, an upstate New York farmhand who, in 1915, was condemned to Sing Sing's death row for a double murder that he didn't commit. He was a victim of phony expert witnesses, crooked investigators and a brutal third degree interrogation that produced an alleged confession. Stielow had four dates with the chair, once coming within 40 minutes of being executed before a stay was phoned through to the prison. Stielow's plight sparked considerable controversy and Grace Humiston was asked to investigate. Going undercover, Grace set out to find the evidence that might save Stielow.
What she and others unearthed was shocking. Ultimately their efforts provoked a gubernatorial inquiry into the case, one that resulted in Stielow being pardoned and led directly to the establishment of modern ballistics analysis. Grace Humiston's pivotal role in this landmark case if fully examined, as are details of her extraordinarily colorful life. She really was a remarkable woman. The book is being published on July 15, 2010.
* * *
CLEWS gives its best wishes to author Colin Evans for his especially good taste in subjects.