Recap: E18 Edgar Allan Poe: A Rigged Murder

“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bus of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeing of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the

         Shall be lifted—nevermore!” – The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Like Edgar Allan Poe’s crime-solving hero C. August Dupin, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show hosts Carter and Wenndy analyze the evidence and weigh various theories about the writer’s demise.


The night before Election Day, a man leaves the pub and is beaten and abducted by thugs. He is not the only one. Many others fall victim to “cooping” that night. In the morning the thugs force the men they’ve kidnapped to vote for Jedidiah Wolf, their chosen candidate, over and over again. They use alcohol to keep them compliant and change articles of clothing to alter their appearances at polling places.

Edgar Allan Poe may have been one of those men plied with alcohol and pressed into committing voter fraud. Yet, rumors circulated by his literary nemesis Rufus Griswald and friend Dr. Snodgrass, an anti-alcohol campaigner, claimed that he was an alcoholic that died from alcohol poisoning. Modern tests conducted on clippings of Edgar’s hair, however, disproved these rumors of alcoholism.

Only eight people attend Edgar’s funeral. His cousin Rebecca Herring clips locks of his hair to give to family members and fans. She argues with Neilson Poe about the proper way to grieve, but the two quickly move on to hugging and crying. When Reverend Clemm sees the poor turnout, he says a few prayers and leaves.

The physician who attended the writer in the hospital, Dr. John Joseph Moran, traveled all over the country, giving lecturers on Edgar’s final days. Dr. Moran asserted that Edgar did not smell of alcohol and refused to accept any offered to him while at the hospital, contradicting Griswold and Dr. Snodgrass’ claims. He also said Edgar hallucinated and repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds.”

The episode then flashes back to Edgar paying a visit to his friend Dr. Carter. When the writer departs, he takes Dr. Carter’s sword-cane and leaves his own behind. Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show host Wenndy Mackenzie suspects Edgar may have been on the run from the Elmira’s brothers and in need of a weapon.

Carter Roy suggests the possibility that he took Dr. Carter’s cane by accident and ran into unforeseen trouble with one of the political gangs forcing people to commit voter fraud. The fact that Dr. Snodgrass found Edgar dressed in another man’s clothes outside a bar that was also a polling place the day after a municipal election supports this theory. A notorious lightweight, it would not have taken much for Edgar to become inebriated. If he really was a victim of “cooping,” the alcohol could have left his system by the time Dr. Moran examined him.

But that still leaves one clue unaccounted for – who was the mysterious “Reynolds?”

Historical records shows that Henry Reynolds, a prominent election judge, was at the polling place where Edgar was found. Could Edgar have been calling out his name? Or the name of one of the thugs that kidnapped him?

Carter and Wenndy also introduce the theory that Edgar Allan Poe was wrapped up in the murder of Mary Roger, the very close, real life basis for his tale “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” Edgar knew Mary’s employer John Anderson, who was a prime suspect until Edgar published the tale. In it, Edgar wrote that a swarthy sailor killed Marie and barely mentioned John’s character to throw off police suspicion. According to this theory, Reynolds killed Mary on John’s behalf and Edgar was paid to cover it up. Another version of the theory postulates that Reynolds was Edgar himself.

When John Anderson died, during the contest of his will, it came to light that he paid Edgar $5,000 to write and publish the story. In another flashback, Edgar and John are heard arguing about the writer republishing “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and bringing Mary Roger’s case back into the public’s mind. Edgar is drunk, demanding money and threatening John with a carving knife. He may have threatened to tell the truth and was killed by John and “Reynolds” to ensure his silence.

What do you think? Did Edgar Allan Poe die of alcohol poisoning? Was he the victim of a voter fraud scheme? Or was he killed to keep his silence in the Mary Roger case?

The Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories hosts favor the “cooping” theory, but tell us your thoughts on Facebook or take our Twitter poll @ParcastNetwork. Don’t worry – it’s “cooping” free.