Another unsolved Princeton murder, which strikes close to home for me, is the 1989 stabbing of Emily “Cissy” Stuart, who was found dead in the basement of her home at 34 Mercer Street.
Stuart was the first wife of Don Stuart, my editor during the Colin Carpi trial, and the mother of Jeb Stuart, who took over Town Topics after the death of his father. Jeb Stuart’s office was just a few doors away from his mother’s house on Mercer Street and he had stopped by the house for lunch the day before her body was found. At the time he assumed that she had taken off on an errand or for a walk. It was not apparent she was missing until the next morning.
As in the Carpi case, the rumor mill sprang into action. Jeb might have killed her to get his share of her net worth, including the house the lovely house on Mercer Street. Nonsense, I thought. Town Topics was a publishing gold mine at the time. Jeb didn’t need the money.
Jeb son’s Craig, an undergraduate at Princeton at the time, might have been done the deed under the influence of some mind-altering drug. Nonsense, I thought. There are certain types of people who can plunge a knife into another human being and others who cannot. Craig did not have that instinct, in my opinion.
I had many lunches with Jeb over the years and every time the case would be resurrected in the press he would grit his teeth. He never questioned the importance of police turning over every stone in their investigation, but he did begin to wonder how many times the same stone should be turned over.
Jeb Stuart’s brother, Charlie, an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer, presented a personal look at his mother’s life and death in a 1992 HBO documentary, “My Mother’s Murder.” Charlie pointed out that a year later a Haitian immigrant was arrested after trying to stab a Princeton woman while she was in the shower. He went to prison, where he died in 1995.
After his arrest, there were no more reports of similar stabbings. For me that case got very cold very quickly.