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Corpus Delicti Hardcover – February, 1986

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 1949 marriage between wealthy widow Evelyn Throsby Mumper and L. Ewing Scott, a handsome bachelor, is presented here as a textbook case of a scheming adventurer marrying for money in order to spend it on younger women. Six years after the wedding, Evelyn Scott disappeared; her husband offered various explanations for her absence, but apparently convinced few. After two years as a fugitive, he was arrested and, despite the absence of a body, was tried, convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonmentall the while insisting not only on his innocence but that his wife was not dead. Scott was released in 1978, and a few years later agreed to talk about the case to Wagner, a Los Angelesbased writer; he ultimately gave her a confession to the murder, thus making this a rather unusual entry in the true-crime annals. February 3
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In May 1955, wealthy 63-year-old Evelyn Scott disappeared from her home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was never found or heard from again. Evelyn's friends supected that Ewing Scott, her fifth husband, had killed her for her money, and this book recounts the investigation, flight of Scott, and his conviction for first degree murder. It is rather rare for a guilty verdict to be returned on wholly circumstantial evidence, but what really makes this story unique is Wagner's report that Scott, who was released in 1978 at the age of 83, confessed his guilt for the first time at their last interview. Recommended for true crime collections. Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (February 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312170165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312170165
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,793,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Diane Wagner apparently knew that there was something extraordinary about the now almost forgotten case of one Leonard Ewing Scott who was put on trial for the murder of his wealthy wife in the mid 1950's in Los Angeles. In any case, Ms. Wagner's timing in writing the book was great because she was able to interview not only the (at that point) aging and failing Mr. Scott before he died, but she also interviewed the hard-charging Los Angeles prosecutor who put Mr. Scott behind bars against all odds.

You see, L. Ewing Scott (he liked the "Ewing" part) killed his unsuspecting wife Evelyn and carried out a "body disposal" scheme so clever that Mrs. Scott was never found. Mr. Scott thought, of course, that without any body, he would never be charged with murder and he told everyone a wide range of stories to account for his wife's sudden departure. ("She was in a sanitarium back East" he'd whisper. "Somewhere.")

While the general public and true crime buffs have almost forgotten about this original "missing woman" case, prosecuting attorneys have not because the case Ms. Wagner discusses forms the basis for nearly all prosecutions of "bodiless homicides" in the U.S.

The assistant D.A., J. Miller Leavy, took on the Scott case, body or no body, and effectively prosecuted the homicide even though there was no body, no crime scene evidence, and "only" circumstantial evidence.

For a new book which puts the L. Ewing Scott case into the context of crimes in which men skillfully dispose of their wives or girlfriends in carefully constructed plots to "get away with murder", see Marilee Strong's new Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives. If you can find a copy of Corpus Delecti, it is a great combination of true crime and legal procedural on just how such a tough case can be built.
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Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed this book very much and found it well written. It is organized and makes sense time wise. It has an old-fashioned 'polite crime' flavor and nothing especially gory. Just a tale of a fortune hunter and the woman (or possibly women) who became his victim. It took some nifty police and prosecutor work to finally bring him to justice.
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By Louise on October 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent.
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