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Playlist: William Dahlberg's Portfolio

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Murder & Memory in a New England Village: The Story of Orville Gibson

From William Dahlberg | 30:27

On New Years Eve day of 1957, Orville Gibson, a farmer in Newbury, Vermont went out to milk his cows. He was never seen alive again. The mystery of his disappearance and death made global headlines for years. Over half a century later, the questions still linger. This story is told by someone who grew up there, and wonders about the effects of it all today.


In what was dubbed "The Spilled Milk Murder" by the press of the late 1950's, the case of Orville Gibson's disappearance and death is a well-known story in Vermont and most of New England. LIFE Magazine twice covered the story at length, while Southern writers called the case "A Northern Lynching". Several "based on a true story" novels used the details on the case as well. Over half a century has passed since Gibson's body was found floating hog tied in the icy waters of the Connecticut River, and two men were tried and acquitted for his murder, but many still wonder about the truth. But even then, it is still a subject which its known is not open for public discussion. The persistence silence in Newbury has only made the case more infamous. A legend has grown up that the last person who knows the truth will come forward to collect the multiple rewards that are still outstanding. The author of this piece returned to his adopted home of Newbury with one goal in mind: not to solve the case, but at least get people to talk about it and reconcile it as a part of the town’s history.