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The Body in the ReservoirMurder and Sensationalism in the South$
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Michael Ayers Trotti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831786

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899038_trotti

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The Disenchantment of Sensational Murder

The Disenchantment of Sensational Murder

(p.79) 3 The Disenchantment of Sensational Murder
The Body in the Reservoir

Michael Ayers Trotti

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the case of Henry Clay Beattie Jr., who was arrested for murdering his wife and was called before the coroner's inquiry. The case quickly became a sensation of the order of the Cluverius murder before it. This was a different era, however, and the Beattie murder fostered its own variety of sensationalism. Between the Civil War and the Progressive Era, public narratives of crime became more detailed, exhaustive, reasoned, and objective, mirroring a shift in cultural mentality from Victorian to modern. As the pamphlet on the “Great Beattie Case” emphasized, the Beattie sensation coverage would be rife with “special photographs” and “special reports,” which would be “complete, fully detailed and concise,” rendering as much as possible the “whole history of the crime.”

Keywords:   Henry Clay Beattie, coroner's inquiry, Cluverius murder, Beattie murder, sensationalism, cultural mentality

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