Graves of the Smuttynose Murder Victims – Portsmouth, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

Graves of the Smuttynose Murder Victims

Final resting place of the two women killed on a small island off the coast of New Hampshire. 


In northern New England, a pair of matching, adjacent tombstones both bear the epitaph, “A sudden death, a striking call/A warning voice that speaks to all/To all to be prepared to die.” They are the final resting places of a pair of murder victims.

Just off the coast of New Hampshire but in the purview of Maine is a 25-acre island called Smuttynose. On March 5, 1873, two women who lived on the island, Karen Christensen and her sister-in-law Anethe, were brutally murdered. A third, Maren Hontvet, who was Karen’s sister, survived the night and accused a man named Louis Wagner. With the help of Maren’s testimony, Wagner was hung for the brutal double murder, although there were some who believed he was innocent.

The graves of Karen and Anethe are located side by side in South Cemetery in Portsmouth, NH. To find them, parallel the short rock wall that delineates the cemetery at Sagamore Avenue until you find the tombstone of a James M. Pickering. Take the grassy path to the left of it. The Christensen’s matching graves are a few hundred feet down and facing this path on the left.

Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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