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January 08 , 2010

A Crime Unfit To Be Named: The Prosecution of John William Campbell


Folks in this sleepy Arkansas hill town had no idea what awaited them that hot June day in 1949. Women went shopping, professors lectured their college classes, and milkmen delivered their wares. They might have missed the report of this scandalous event. So charged were the words required to describe it, the news wouldn’t make the front page. Instead, hidden on Page 6 between random items of little interest, a tiny notice announced the beginning of a crime and a mystery: “Charges of sodomy were filed late this morning in Circuit Court against John Campbell and Mrs. Mary Henry.”
What was the “horrible crime not fit to be named among Christians” which brought policemen to Mr. Campbell’s home? What led to this disturbing discovery? What would become of the young women involved?
This true account tracks indictments, court records, family history, and newspaper articles to tell an outrageous story of zealous lawmen and personal tragedy, and illuminates a tremendous social change which has occurred since 1950.

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