Life After Trial Murder and William Herbert Wallace Part 2

About William Herbert Wallace, the prime suspect when his wife was found murdered despite a lack of evidence, life after the not guilty verdict


And After: "If only you knew how amazingly thrilling it is to laugh again," declared Wallace when he was released from jail. But his laughter was short-lived. The capricious tide of public opinion turned with a vengeance. When the verdict had gone against him, Liverpudlians had flocked to the cathedral to pray for him. No sooner were their prayers answered, however, than they began to complain that he had gotten away with murder. Vampire, sex maniac, sadist, and mad scientist were among the epithets they hurled at him; and every day brought a fresh onslaught of slights, abuse, threats, and calculated cruelties.

Courageously-or foolhardily-he attempted to resume his rounds for the Prudential, but the customers with whom he had shared tea and chitchat now slammed doors in his face. His compassionate employers reassigned him to a back-room desk so that he would no longer have to confront a hostile public, but manifestations of ill will were everywhere. Even at his club, "the men with whom I have lost and won at play so often" ostracized their onetime colleague.

Hate mail arrived with malevolent regularity. Local children taunted and tormented him round the clock. "Julia, Julia, what's happened to Julia?" they would chant through the letter-box. "She's all chopped up . . . chop, chop, chop. . . Killy Willy!" Wallace, who had always tried to live by the precepts of the Greek Stoics, remained outwardly calm and controlled. Yet the entries in his diary reflect his brooding sensitivity and his bitter anguish. "Find all the neighbors up against me," he noted on June 16, 1931. "They're the rottenest crowd I ever struck. Mean and paltry-brained. I feel it is a wicked insult to Julia."

He retreated to a cottage in Meadowside Road, Bromborough, a suburb of Liverpool. It was the kind of house that Julia had dreamed of, and this realization sharpened his grief. "I can only too sadly picture how lovingly she would have tended the garden. . . . Julia, my dear, why were you taken from me? . . . I must fight this dread feeling of utter loneliness as best I can." Meadowside Road was 5 mi. from Wolverton Street, but it wasn't far enough from the curiosity seekers and rumormongers who pursued him. He built a high fence to protect his privacy, and an elderly friend, Annie Mason, became his housekeeper. But suspicions, anxiety, and "black despair" were his closest companions. Constantly, he mulled over the "terrible drama" that had shattered his carefully structured world, and even his beloved chess failed to provide solace.

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