- Saturday, May 16, 4 pm: Roseanne Montillo, “The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Boston’s Great Fire and the Hunt for America’s Youngest Serial Killer”
In the early 1870s, local children begin disappearing from the working-class neighborhoods of Boston. Several return home bloody and bruised after being tortured, while others never come back.. With the city on edge, authorities believe the abductions are the handiwork of a psychopath, until they discover that their killer—fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy—is barely older than his victims. The criminal investigation that follows sparks a debate among the world’s most revered medical minds, and will have a decades-long impact on the judicial system and medical consciousness.
“The Wilderness of Ruin” is a riveting tale of gruesome murder and depravity. At its heart is Gilded Age Boston , divided by class—a chasm that widens in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1872, and the genteel cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill to the squalid, overcrowded tenements of Southie. .. Here, too, is the writer Herman Melville. Enthralled by the child killer’s case, he enlists physician Oliver Wendell Holmes to help him understand how it might relate to his own mental instability.