Beth grew up just outside of Payson, Ill on the family farm. She attended Seymour High School and Monticello Prep School before going to college at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Arizona where she studied history and journalism. She has owned and operated retail businesses, including, The Balcony in the historic district of Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain’s Home Town. She has also been a business trainer and sales coach. She now lives in Tucson, AZ, where she gives workshops and is a creativity coach for writers.
Beth is a board member of the Arizona Mystery Writers, and also a member of the Society for Southwestern Authors and the International Women’s Writing Guild, and Tapestry Writing Group.
Beth can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or at 520-544-6096
Web sites: http://bethlanewrites.com
She also participates on: Goodreads, Shelfari, Author Central, She Writes and other writing web sites.
Title: Lies Told Under Oath
Subtitle: The Puzzling Story of the Pfanschmidt Murders and of the Surviving Son—Victim or Villain?
|9781462076307||6×9 Perfect Bound Softcover||$26.95||Title Live|
|9781462076314||6×9 Dust Jacket Hardcover||$36.95||Title Live|
Author: Beth Lane
Page Count: 427
Category: True Crime
Pub Date: Feb. 10,2011
A true tale of mystery, murder, arson, greed, contrived evidence and courtroom drama from 1912 that strangely echoes some notable trials of our present time.
In 1912, a prosperous Illinois farm family was brutally murdered, the crime concealed by arson, and the surviving son, handsome Ray Pfanschmidt arrested. He was convicted by the press long before trial. As the battle for his life surged through three courtrooms, the drama was complicated by brilliant attorneys, allegations of perjury; charges of rigged evidence; legal loopholes and conflict over the large estate being inherited by the alleged murderer. Science was in its infancy, telephones meant shared party lines, bloody evidence was contested (or contrived) and automobiles competed with bloodhounds and buggies. The remaining family divided over Ray’s guilt while his fiancé staunchly stood by him.
Lies Told Under Oath is told through the words of those involved. Beth Lane (www.bethlanewrites.com), researched trial transcripts, and contemporary reports, to craft a look at the power of the press, and an intriguing mystery that changed the laws of inheritance.
A portion of the proceeds from this book go to benefit the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois.
- History Buffs
- True Crime Buffs
- Legal Scholars – Pfanschmidt is still cited as case law, and it changed the inheritance laws
- Midwestern Residents – it covers Illinois, Missoure and Kansas locales
- Blood Hound owners/trainers
- CSI followers
- 1912 have more life changing events than the Titanic Sinking – it also had the Pfanschmidt Murders and their enduring mystery
- This case changed the law so you could no longer be convicted of killing your family and still inherit their estate.
- There is a handsome victim/villain, his beautiful fiancee, four murders, blood hounds, buggies and suspected police corruption. There are stool pigeons and fallen women and pieces of possible planted bloody evidence.
- You could say this case combines the biggest elements of the O.J. and the Menendez brothers cases
What happened originally?
A family was killed and their home burned down. A mother, father, sister and a school teacher boarding with them were found in the ruins, with axe wounds that had been fatal before the fire. In a some cases the bodies bore signs of dismemberment. The only surviving family member, the son, Ray Pfanschmidt was tried in the newspapers, then arrested and tried by the courts. He was convicted and through appeals would eventually be acquitted, leaving behind more mystery.
What is so important about this crime?
The crime that took place in 1912 was important at two levels. On the more personal level, the violence of it and the fact that the family’s son was accused meant that the community was polarized along cultural and societal lines, the Pfanschmidt family itself was divided in their opinions of guilt or innocence, and the events highlighted the cultural differences between the German settlers and other farmers in the area and the city. In a few short years, WWI would again open this wound. On a larger level, this case changed the law several ways, which are important to know about. At the time of Ray’s arrest, it was not against the law to kill someone and then inherit from them as beneficiary of their will.
Where did the title come from?
The longer I studied the evidence, testimony and conflicting reports, the more it became evident that not everyone could possibly be telling the truth. Some people had to be literally telling lies under oath.
Why did you write this book?
I didn’t start out to write a book, I just wanted to find out why my blind great-grandfather’s name was listed on the witness list for the trial. But the story took over and wouldn’t let me alone. Finally, after years of research, I gave in and wrote it.
Is all this really true?
Yes, it’s exactly what was said, and what happened as nearly as I can document it. There are, of course, conflicting interests, conflicting viewpoints, and conflicting reports. That’s what makes it so intriguing. There are many pieces to this story, in fact if someone wrote it as fiction, it probably wouldn’t be believable!
How long did you research this book?
I spent over ten years following the trail, off and on. I found the original report from the Coroner’s Inquest in the sub-basement of the courthouse, had the trial testimony and appeal paperwork, over 3,000 pages of it transferred to microfiche and then to a pdf, read thousands of pages of newspaper accounts, and did other research on the times.
What are your qualifications?
I think all good writers have to have intelligence, interest, tenacity and just a smidgeon of “crazy” to follow a story wherever it leads. I have put in my many years of school, and business and coaching, but in the end all that doesn’t mean as much as the willingness and ability to commit your own efforts to paper.
Do you think Ray did it?
That question is one for my readers to decide. For myself, I have made up my mind – often, and frequently, and then changed it again. What I think on any given day is not as important as the case itself and the changes it made in the local area and the state of Illinois and the laws that govern us.
News Release for upcoming Book Tour to Illinois:
Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County
425 S. 12th St., Quincy, IL 62301 217-222-1835 www.adamscohistory.org
For Immediate Release For more information:
February 27, 2012 Reg Ankrom 217-779-259
Author To Discuss New Book on Adams County’s Notorious 1912 Pfanschmidt Case
By the time Beth Lane was an adult, Adams County’s notorious Pfanschmidt murder case of 1912 was little more than legend. But for Lane, an author who was raised on the family farm just outside Payson and near the site where the brutal killings took place, the elements of the unsolved mystery were too compelling to let go.
The result is her recently published book, Lies Told Under Oath, about the century-old, sensational murder case that occurred just a few miles from her childhood home. It was a story, she said, that “simply had to be written.”
Lane will unveil her discoveries about the murder mystery, told in her 427-page non-fiction account, during two programs in the John Wood Mansion, 425 S. 12th St., at 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County, which is sponsoring the event, will have copies of Lane’s book, published in February, available for signing after each of her presentations. The event is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested. They may be made by calling 217-222-1835. Additional details of Lane’s presentations are available at the society’s website at www.adamscohistory.org
The murders were brutal. Charles A. and Matilda Pfanschmidt, their 14-year-old daughter Blanch, and school teacher Emma Kaempen, who was boarding with them, were murdered in the Pfanschmidt home in late September 1912. The home was completely destroyed, and the four bodies found in the ruins all seemed to bear axe wounds.
On January 31, 1912, an Adams County grand jury charged the fifth resident, the Pfanschmidt’s 20-year-old son Ray, with the murders.
Within a few months, Ray Pfanschmidt was convicted of the crimes in an Adams County court and sentenced to be hanged in October 1813. The Illinois Supreme Court, however, stayed the execution after finding multiple problems with the trial. While the case made its way through more trials and appeals, passions surfaced and supporters lined up behind the victim and the accused. The case subsequently took numerous turns that gave newspaper reporters surprising new twists for their stories.
Lane said that by the time she heard of the case as a girl, “. . . the Pfanschmidt story was a legend and had so few details it didn’t even make a good ghost story around the camp fire. The ‘Haunted Tavern’ which later occupied a nearby site, was the source of further odd occurrences, but details were sketchy.”
Lane said she developed a stronger interest in the case when she learned that her great grandfather’s name was on the list of witnesses for the trial.
“That started my search for the real story and led to the full tale I wrote,” she said. “Even though it turned out that my relative didn’t testify, the search and the story were too compelling to relinquish. This book simply had to be written.”
Using hundreds of sources, including primary news accounts and case records that took her from the basement of the Adams County court house to the files of the Illinois Supreme Court, Lane follows the renewed investigations and continuing court reviews—and precedent setting decisions that have served in nearly 80 subsequent cases. Lane details her sources of information in hundreds of footnotes.
Lane attended Seymour High School in Payson and Monticello Prep School before attending the University of Wisconsin and University of Arizona. She has owned and operated retail businesses, including The Balcony in Hannibal’s historic district. She is a resident of Tucson, AZ, where she leads workshops and coaches writers.