The Murder of Emma J. Turnbull

Young Harold Turnbull pressed his face against the front porch windows of his home, a modest dwelling on the outer boundary of Otter Creek, Maine. It was just after 4 o’clock in the afternoon on August 4, 1916.

The front door was locked as he’d left it, though the key that he and his seven siblings always kept hidden in a tree was missing. He’d just returned from picking blueberries — a common summertime job for young children in Mount Desert Island. Without a key, he tested the window, and the sound of wood on wood made him wince as it opened. 

Harold clambered through the small opening, landing with a dull thud on the worn wood floors. The missing key was the first warning that something was off, but the scene inside was all the more alarming. Broken glass from a lamp chimney pebbled the floor. In the center of the kitchen was a saucer-sized pool of what appeared to be blood. His mother’s white apron lay on a chair in a crumpled mess, covered in deep red stains. But his mother wasn’t home. Her own pail of blueberries from her own day of picking sat in the front room, but it was the only sign that Emma J. Turnbull had ever returned home.

“Murder will out,” that’s what they used to say. In this case, it was proven true, though not without a cunning scheme to push the prime suspect to the precipice of confession.

This is the case of Emma J. Turnbull. Listen to the full story on Dark Downeast wherever you get your podcasts and via the player below.