Avenel Performing Arts Center
150 Avenel Street
Avenel, NJ 07001
Before the O.J. Simpson trial, before the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, Central New Jersey was home to the original Trial of the Century – the Hall Mills Murder Trial. In 1922 the Reverend Edward Hall, an Episcopal priest in New Brunswick, was having a torrid love affair with Eleanor Mills, a married choir singer in his congregation. The affair was the worst kept secret in the city. On September 16, 1922 they were found murdered in a lover’s lane just over the New Brunswick border. He was shot once in the head. She was shot three times in the head, her throat was sliced from ear to ear, and her tongue was cut out. The Reverend’s wife Frances and her two brothers, Willie and Henry Stevens, were the prime suspects.
The case had all the elements of a scintillating novel: adultery, murder, high society, incest, racism, revenge, political intrigue, media sensationalism, and badly mishandled evidence. When the suspects were finally brought to trial in 1926 there were over 200 news reporters from around the country covering the case, making it the original “Trial of the Century.” The trial lasted a month. There were 157 witnesses, including the “Pig Woman” who testified from a hospital gurney in the courtroom.
The Hall Mills Murder Trial Play is a superb recreation of the dramatic court case that thrilled the country. Critics claim that the play is “excellent!” “fascinating” “a fantastic dramatization of a riveting cold case.”