Journalist Emilie Lucchesi talks about her new book, UGLY PREY: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence That Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago with Host Libby Hellmann Sunday, Sept 10, at 6 PM CDT.
UGLY PREY is A true crime tale about a poor immigrant woman with very little English – and a very dead husband during the 1920s in Chicago. The criminal justice system that sentenced her to hang, and the media circus that made her face the most hated in the nation.
Struggling to scrape together a living on her primitive family farm outside Chicago, immigrant Sabella Nitti was arrested in 1923 for the murder of her missing husband. Within two months, she was found guilty and became the first woman ever sentenced to hang in Chicago. Journalist Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi leads readers through Sabella's sensational case, showing how, with no evidence and no witnesses, she was the target of an obsessed deputy sheriff and the victim of a faulty legal system.
She was also—to the men who convicted her and the reporters fixated on her—ugly. For that unforgiveable crime, the media painted her as a hideous, dirty, and unpredictable immigrant, almost an animal.Lucchesi brings to life the sights and sounds of 1920s Chicago—its then-rural outskirts, downtown halls of power, and headline-making crimes and trials, including those of two other women (who would inspire the musical and film Chicago) also accused of killing the men in their lives.
Featuring an ambitious and ruthless journalist who helped demonize Sabella through her reports, and the brilliant, beautiful, twenty-three-year-old lawyer who helped humanize her with a jailhouse makeover, Ugly Prey is not just a page-turning courtroom drama but also a thought-provoking look at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, class, and the American justice system.