The truth about the torso

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Hannah Mary Tabbs: A black murderess in racist 1800s US

Image caption Hannah Mary Tabbs and her supposed accomplice"s mugshots from 1887

In 1887, the discovery of a torso near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, touched off a sensational murder trial. Kali Nicole Gross, author of Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, went in search of the woman at the centre of it all.

When a local carpenter on his way to work discovered a headless, limbless, racially ambiguous torso in a pond just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1887, it terrified the residents in the surrounding communities.

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