It was a murder—and subsequent trial—that captivated the young city.
Nicknamed Elma, she lived in the same boarding house as Weeks did in Lispenard’s Meadows, a marshy area near Greenwich and Spring Streets.
On the night of December 22, Elma left her house. Supposedly she told her sister and a friend that she and Weeks were eloping.
She was never seen alive again. Two days later, her possessions—and her beaten body—were found at the bottom of a nearby well. Weeks was quickly indicted for her murder.
The evidence was circumstantial. A sleigh holding two men and a woman was seen by the well the night Elma disappeared; Elma’s sister said Weeks returned to the boarding house that night “pale and nervous.”
To defend himself, Weeks assembled the original dream team of lawyers, including Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Even though most New Yorkers thought he was guilty, Burr and Hamilton got him acquitted.
Weeks left town fast and moved to Natchez, Mississippi. He became an architect and built many of the city’s loveliest homes.
Tags: Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, Greenwich and Spring Streets, infamous murders in New York City, Levi Weeks, Lispenard's Meadows, Manhattan Well Murder, New York in 1800, notorious murders New York, Tribeca history