Wife Kills Husband in Bridge Game: Murder or Domestic Violence - A JCHS Living History Event

Plan to attend the JCHS living history event reenacting the well-known murder trial of a wife who kills her husband over a 1929 bridge game in Kansas City.


The public event will be 2 pm on Sat., May 30th at the Brady Courtroom at the Truman Courthouse on the Independence Square.

 James A. Reed

James A. Reed

The case involves the trial of Myrtle Bennett who killed her husband John during a game of contract bridge.

This is one of the first court cases to raise the issue of domestic violence. Myrtle was defended by Kansas City attorney and U.S. Sen. James A. Reed.

Reed has figured prominently in other JCHS living history events including the Swope murder trial and the murder trial of Frank James Jr.

Several prominent member of the Jackson County bar will play the roles of attorneys and judge. The reenactment will also be presented at the UMKC Law School for continuing law education credit.

Research for the bridge game murder trial was done by JCHS board member Ralph Monaco, who is responsible for other JCHS living history projects which have been popular with the public.

Tickets for the May 30th public performance are $10 and will be on sale closer to the event.

The Bennett case is recounted in the book The Devil's Ticket by Gary Pomerantz which is available from the JCHS bookstore.

Publisher's Weekly, in its review of the book, comments:

"The innocuous game of bridge turned deadly in Kansas City, Mo., in 1929 when Myrtle Bennett apparently shot her husband dead in a dispute over a game. In recounting this tale, Pomerantz introduces an ensemble of 1920s characters ranging from Ely Culbertson, who helped fuel the new bridge craze, to Fightin' Jim Reed, the U.S. senator from Kansas City who successfully defended the gorgeous Myrtle Bennett at trial. As promoted by Culbertson, bridge was a zone of equality between men and women—and the stage on which marital spats could escalate; it was, said Culbertson, a way to defuse the petty inhibitions and tensions of daily married life."

Monaco has compiled a book with contemporary press coverage of the murder and the trial which JCHS plans on publishing in conjunction with the trial.