Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling turned on each other as more evidence surfaced against them. They were both trying to save their own skin. The detectives were able to piece the case together and were sure the two were in it together. The detectives learned that Pearl’s head was thrown in the Ohio River although Louis Ross and Sam Phister, students at the Ohio Dental College, said it was commonly felt at the school that her head was thrown into one of the large furnaces at the school.
Twenty-eight year old Scott Jackson went on trial April 21, 1896 for the murder of Pearl Bryan of Greencastle, Indiana. Alonzo Walling’s trial would not begin until the following month.
Sheriff Plummer, sheriff of Campbell County, Kentucky, and the detectives on the case, were questioned about their investigation and much of the evidence. Employees at the John Church Music Publishing Company, located at Fourth and Elm Streets in Cincinnati, testified about hearing an intense argument in front of their store shortly before Pearl’s death. An open window allowed them to hear the whole heated conversation when Pearl complained that Jackson had not helped her as promised. She said if something wasn’t done soon she was going back to Indiana and tell the whole story. The participants were later identified as Jackson and Walling. They were able to identify Pearl Bryan by a picture.
Investigating officers were very interested in a dissecting knife that Jackson usually carried and often exhibited in front of friends and acquaintances. They were asked if they had seen the knife since the gruesome murder. Absolutely no one had seen it since Pearl’s macabre murder and decapitation.
The porter at Legner’s Tavern and eatery testified that he saw Jackson, Walling and Pearl in the tavern early on the night the murder occurred.
“I saw one of the men put something in the young lady’s drink,” he affirmed. Through the investigation it was learned that Scott purchased the cocaine at a drug store in the immediate vicinity. In that era cocaine and many other drugs could be purchased even without a prescription.
A black coachman whose stable was nearby on Peeble’s Corner followed on the witness stand. He stated that “the young lady was either quite sick or drugged” the night he took the three into Kentucky. They evidently had travelled a circuitous route in that there was no evidence they used either of the toll roads that most riders would use with the same destination.
The driver said “the young lady moaned most of the way,” but added that her cries became louder and more often as they neared their destination. The coachman became so concerned with the actions of the young men he said he left, returning to Kentucky even though he was told to wait.
The bartender at Legner’s Tavern testified that Jackson left the valise at the tavern on the night of the murder and picked it up the following night. He recalled it felt heavy enough to be holding a bowling ball.
After picking up the grip at Legner’s Tavern, Jackson walked to the middle of the Covington Suspension Bridge and dumped Pearl’s head and his dissecting knife into the Ohio River.
He didn’t want to return the leather grip to Legner’s Tavern as he was too well known there. He stopped instead at another tavern where he wasn’t known. Mr. Kugel, the owner, told Scott he could leave it with him. He did but never returned to get it, of course he probably never planned to retrieve it.
After reading about the case in the newspapers Kugel suspected the valise could be important and took it to authorities. The leather luggage item was brought in as evidence in the trial but this was before they could determine blood types. Naturally prosecutors inferred that it was Pearl Bryan’s blood and the jury most likely assumed it was.
Scott Jackson took the stand when the defense began their case, saying that it was Alonzo Walling, not he, who had murdered Pearl. The defense insisted the murder was committed in Ohio, not Kentucky, which would cause a dismissal of charges if their contention was accepted.
A man giving his name as William Trusty took the stand for the defense, claiming he had driven the carriage on the night of Pearl’s death and that she was dead when she boarded the horse-drawn vehicle. Trusty was told an abortion had been tried but that it failed and she had died. He left the area following his testimony and was never seen again. Neither the jury nor others at the trial believed his testimony as it didn’t correlate with other evidence in the trial. Pearl had been seen getting into the conveyance while she was alive.
When the Scott Jackson jury was asked for their verdict it was answered with a resounding “Guilty.”
Newsmen rushed from the courtroom to get it in the latest editions. Copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson
Editor’s note: Alonzo Walling goes on trial for murder and an unusual jailbreak occurs in the next edition. Jadon Gibson’s stories are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read often at bereaonline.com. Don’t miss a single posting!