The South Coast's murderous past explored

By Tanner Harding | Jun 28, 2017
Photo by: Tanner Harding John Cummings holds up his newest book.

Mattapoisett — Mattapoisett Library got a taste of the macabre as John Cummings stopped by to talk about his new book “Murder, Manslaughter & Mayhem on the South Coast.”

Much like the name implies, the book focuses on crimes committed on the South Coast, particularly in the greater Fall River area. However, Cummings was sure to mention a murder-suicide that took place in Mattapoisett decades ago, in which a husband killed his wife and then himself.

“[The wife] had bank notes that were insured,” Cummings said. “That’s how she got dragged into it.”

The book is the first of two volumes, and focuses on about 75 cases from 1832-1969. The next volume, due out around Christmas, will have even more cases.

“There were a ton of drug murders in the ‘90s,” Cummings said. “It was so sad.”

He gave a brief overview of some of the cases he tackles in his book, and what happened to the perpetrators of the crimes.

“Many were released to murder again,” he said. “And many went to mental institutions, which was more prevalent back then.”

And as any South Coast resident knows, it’s couldn’t be a book about local crime without mentioning the Borden murders.

“The Borden murders are the most famous, but many others are just as compelling,” he said. “My grandfather was asked to be Lizzie Borden’s attorney, but he wouldn’t represent her.”

In a question and answer section, one person asked what motivated Cummings to write a book on this subject.

“It just seemed to be a very interesting topic with a lot of potential,” he said. “There are a lot of books about Lizzie Borden, but not about other cases from the South Coast. And I wanted to bring some peace to the families [of the victims]."

To purchase the book, visit

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