Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

George Parkman

The Star Witness

Littlefield had known both men for yearsDr. Parkman as long as two decades. He recalled the victim demanding repayment of a debt on November 19, four days before he disappeared. That same day, Webster had asked him about the construction of the dissecting room vault, specifically as to whether one could get a light down inside. Littlefield answered in the negative, due to the foul air. Lights went out immediately.

Then there was another factor: once Parkman had disappeared, it had proven difficult to get into Dr. Webster's rooms, he said. After that, Webster had given him the turkey for his dinner, and it was the following day when he'd felt the intense heat in the walls that had made him suspicious enough to go into the tunnel and dig into the privy.

The defense attorneys suggested that he was in it for the reward money, but he denied it. "I never have made or intend to make any claim for either of the rewards that have been offered," he insisted. (Eventually, however, he did accept $3000 from Parkman's family.)

Littlefield made a strong impression on the jury. He was confident and seemed honest, and there was nothing the defense could do to break down his story. What they did not do, although Webster had suggested it in his prepared document, was to accuse Littlefield himself of doing the deed.

The court recessed for Sunday, and on Monday, everyone returned for the examination of Webster's financial difficulties. It was clear that his amount of debt and his living expenses hindered his ability to repay the loan to Parkman. It wasn't at all clear where he could have gotten the money. That meant to the jury that Webster had lied.

After all this, it was back to the body and more grisly details. A police officer testified about finding the torso in the tea chest, and the chest was then displayed. It was clearly stained with blood. Then he discussed how it was possible to fit the other parts down the privy hole, but not the torso.

Some witnesses talked about Webster's uncharacteristic behavior after Parkman disappeared, and finally, three letters were brought into evidence that had been written to deflect the investigation away from the medical college, and all were unsigned. A man familiar with Webster's handwriting testified that he believed that Webster had written all three letters. Even worse, Webster's handwriting was recognized on the face of one of Parkman's loan notices, saying "Paid."

Aside from a witness who put Parkman on the steps of the medical college in the early afternoon on Friday, the prosecution rested its case.



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