This essay explores southern gothic themes through the lens the murder of Jennie Merrill in Natchez, Mississippi, in August 1932. The crime, more popularly known as the "Goat Castle murder," made national headlines throughout the fall of that year as journalists focused their attention on Merrill's neighbors. Dick Dana and Octavia Dockery, originally arrested for the crime, lived in shocking conditions in a crumbling antebellum mansion. Dana's mental health problems and the fact that the pair lived with goats led journalists to compare the story to the fiction of William Faulkner and Edgar Allen Poe. The story of Goat Castle in 1932 also bears striking similarities to that of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, the eccentric relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and their home Grey Gardens. The essay posits that popular media, especially film, often revisits southern gothic themes that appear far-fetched. Yet the story of Goat Castle revealed that the truth was stranger than fiction.


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pp. 98-107
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