Photo at right:
Marianne "Mimi" Wesson
The definitive history of The Hillmon Case is currently being written by Marianne Wesson, author of Render Up the Body, A Suggestion of Death, and Chilling Effect.
"Mimi Wesson (known to readers of her novels as Marianne Wesson) is a legal commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, as well as Professor of Law, Wolf-Nichol Fellow, President’s Teaching Scholar, and Senior Scholar of the Womens Studies Program at the University of Colorado. She has also served as a federal prosecutor, university administrator, and acting law school dean. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Texas Law School." -- Mimi Wesson, National Public Radio Biography.
TheHillmonCase.comfor a fascinating overview of her research and analysis of the evidence in the case.
Her web site, Wessonbooks.com, will have an announcement when her book on the Hillmon case has been published.
In the meantime, recent news items about her investigation of this case follow:
Exhumation of the 'Hillmon' remains in Grave 555, Oak Grove Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas, 19 May 2006
From left: Ernesto Acevedo-Munoz, Mimi Wesson (in cowboy hat), Andrea Viedt, Paul Sandberg (in grave),
Katie Jackson, Sarah Garner (in grave) Lee Sarter, Mike Lawrence, Dennis Van Gerven (kneeling by side of grave).
Photo by Mike Brier, used with his permission.
A Protocol for Excavation and Analysis of Remains Located in a Gravesite in Lawrence, Kansas
Bones back in Kansas: DNA evidence pending in landmark 1879 case By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News, May 22, 2006. "Forty-six of the 47 bones exhumed Friday at this city's Oak Hill Cemetery were returned to the earth Sunday in a brief ceremony under cloudless skies. It's the fourth time the same remains have been laid to rest. Just one bone, a section of a man's left shoulder blade, is to be taken back to Boulder, where a geneticist will attempt to retrieve DNA that could prove whether the man buried here 127 years ago is Hillmon, or perhaps another man who was killed in 1879 and buried as part of a $25,000 insurance fraud."
Grave riddle one step closer to being laid to rest: Identity of bones could have legal impact By Sophia Maines, Lawrence Journal-World, Saturday, 20 May 2006. "Will the bones unearthed Friday from an unmarked grave in Lawrence’s Oak Hill Cemetery solve a 127-year-old murder mystery? After hours of digging, crews exhumed numerous bits of remains, including teeth and parts of skull and clavicle. DNA tests will now determine who was laid to rest in the grassy plot more than a century ago."
Teeth could help unearth longstanding mystery: Colorado researchers dig up grave in Lawrence to determine who was buried there in 1879 By Tim Hrenchir, The Capital-Journal, 20 May 2006. "LAWRENCE -- Researchers digging up a grave Friday in Oak Hill Cemetery found teeth and bone fragments, leaving them optimistic that DNA testing can prove whether the man buried there in 1879 was actually John Wesley Hillmon. University of Colorado law professor Mimi Wesson said more than 20 small bone fragments were recovered from the grave purported to be that of Hillmon, who was at the center of an epic insurance fraud case that was twice heard by the Supreme Court. Wesson and CU anthropology professor Dennis Van Gerven led the team that conducted Friday's dig."
DNA twist to Old West case: CU profs hear from descendant of man they exhume today By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News , May 19, 2006. "LAWRENCE, Kan. - An answer to the John Wesley Hillmon mystery might be found in the DNA, after all. Work begins early today to identify the coffin's remains at the 127- year-old grave of the man at the center of an epic insurance fraud case. And now, the 11th-hour discovery of a Hillmon descendant could make the job much easier..."
Sleuths continue digging into grave mystery By Sophia Maines, Lawrence Journal-World, Saturday, 19 May 2006. "A bit of bone. That’s all they have for now, and that may be all two University of Colorado professors need to solve the century-old mystery of who was buried in an unmarked grave in Lawrence’s Oak Hill Cemetery. After several hours of digging, crews shortly after noon today uncovered what they believe is a piece of shoulder blade."
Professors will exhume body to solve mystery, Wichita Eagle, 05 April 2006. "LAWRENCE - Two University of Colorado professors hope a 127-year-old mystery involving an unmarked grave in Kansas will be solved as soon as next month. A Douglas County judge on Friday gave Colorado anthropology professor Dennis Van Gerven and law professor Marianne Wesson permission to exhume a body in the grave at Lawrence's Oak Hill Cemetery. They hope to determine if the corpse is John Hillmon or Frederick A. Walters. Questions about who was buried in the grave eventually led to the creation of an important piece of federal evidence law in the late 1800s."
Petition filed to dig up old grave: City supports project to exhume 127-year-old remains at Oak Hill Cemetery By Sophia Maines, Lawrence Journal-World, Saturday, 02 February 2006. "Two University of Colorado professors want to exhume the remains of a 127-year-old unmarked grave at Oak Hill Cemetery. Anthropology professor Dennis Van Gerven and law professor Marianne Wesson both are working on the project. They plan to use forensic evidence to solve a dispute that in 1892 was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court and generated an important piece of federal evidence law."
Gravesite in Lawrence’s Oak Hill Cemetery might hold clues to the mystery of Crooked Creek, By Charlie Brennan - Special from Rocky Mountain News, Lawrence Journal-World, January 30, 2006. Includes a photo captioned: "University of Colorado professors Dennis Van Gerven and Mimi Wesson hold pictures of a body believed to be John Wesley Hillmon, who died in 1879. Van Gerven and Wesson plan to ask Lawrence officials for permission to exhume Hillmon’s body, supposedly buried in Oak Hill Cemetery."
The Hillmon Case: An Exercise in Interdisciplinary Research and Teaching - Dennis VanGerven and Mimi Wesson with Jim Curry, moderator. "The Wisdom of Practice in Teaching and Learning", Fall 2005 Retreat, University of Colorado President's Teaching Scholars Program.
See current Google search results for Hillmon +Wesson for more information about Mimi Wesson's investigation of the Hillmon case; see Google search results for Marianne Wesson for more information about her writings and career.
Dennis Van Gerven, PhD - Director, Honors Program, University of Colorado at Boulder. See current Google search results for Hillmon +Gerven for more information about Dennis Van Gerven's investigation of this case; see Google search results: Dennis Van Gerven for more information about his writings and career.
Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Hillmon - 145 U.S. 285 (1892)
Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Hillmon
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