Why do tales of murder intrigue us? When we're children, we fear the dark--the hidden creatures in the shadows. But as we age, so do our fears, turning from something otherworldly to monsters much more terrifying.
Allow me to tell you a story of a mysterious murder. Then we'll sort through the facts. The jury has already decided the fate, but it's your turn to be the judge.
What is it about mysterious tales of murder that intrigues the mind? In October of 2017, Psychology today had an article that said, “killers are for adults what monster movies are for children—that is, scary fun!” The author went on to say that their research revealed people with a fascination with murder claimed it to be a guilty pleasure. A tale of murder appeals to our instinctual need to survive. We want to understand so that maybe we could—Heaven forbid—avoid ending up as another cautionary tale.
Or maybe it’s just an adrenaline rush, watching, listening, or reading someone else’s misfortune leaves us as a sort of survivor. One who lives on to tell the tale. To pass on the wisdom we learned. To protect ourselves in whatever ways we can because of what we’ve learned.
As adults, we get some sort of strange enjoyment from flirting with fear, even if though it terrifies us. We like our minds to be challenged, engaged by something we don’t yet understand.
No matter the reason for our curiosity, we all walk away feeling thankful we’re alive. Perhaps, that’s the real reason we’re interested in these dark, twisted tales—we want that surge of relief that our life is still safe.
Let’s first hear the fiction, then we’ll get to the facts. After all, isn’t that how stories are typically told?
Frankie Stewart Silver was born in 1814 and died July 12th, 1833. She was hanged in Burke County North Carolina for the murder of her husband, Charles Silver. The motive for the murder is unclear, but there are several theories. It’s believed that her husband may have beaten her, and the ax murder was an act of self-defense. It’s also possible that she was jealous of some affair that her husband may have been having. Another theory, and the one I’ve chosen to write about is that she and her family wanted to move out West but needed Charles to sell his property to do it, but he refused to leave. Getting rid of him, they’d obtain the deed and sell it themselves.
Frankie never confessed to the murder and never discussed any sort of motive.
Before she could be hanged, her father and brother broke her out of jail, but they were all later apprehended.
When asked if she had any last words, her father yelled from the crowd, “Die with it in you, Frankie!” This leads people to believe that her family may have—or in my opinion—most likely took part in the killing.
Evidence at the family cabin revealed that Charles’ body was indeed burned.
Charles and Frankie’s real daughter, Nancy, was only 13 months old at the time.
Frankie is believed to be the first white woman to have been executed in Burke County.