Author Tom Dresser will discuss his book Mystery on Martha’s Vineyard: Politics, Passion and Scandal on East Chop, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.
On the last day of June, 1940, the Vineyard was shocked by a brutal murder: Clara Smith, 72, of Dorchester, was found murdered in her small room in the Sumner Hall dormitory for students of the Phidelah Rice School of the Spoken Word on East Chop. Mrs. Smith’s “ravished” and bludgeoned body was a grisly discovery. After a fairly inept preliminary visit by the local police, the state police were called on the scene. No one was ever arrested.
Mr. Dresser draws from dozens of interviews, testimonies and newspaper accounts to offer a fresh perspective on the unsolved murder at the Rice Playhouse. In doing his own crime scene investigation, he also used the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, which houses archives of Island history dating back many generations.