The 1941 deaths of 10 circus elephants brought nationwide attention to Augusta.

It was a case with just about everything.

Ten dead circus elephants, suspicions of arsenic poison, a suspect who looked guilty with an alibi nobody believed, a private investigator, a Minneapolis psychiatrist and a dead clown.

All came together in Augusta in November 1941, and newspapers around the country responded to what appeared to be a sensational, if not unusual crime.

“Big Top Murder Case” said the headline in the New York Daily News.

“Murder of 10 Reported,” The Baltimore Evening Sun said.

It was “Mass Murder,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, and “Arrest Predicted in Poison Deaths,” the Austin American-Statesman revealed.

At the heart of the case was the sudden death of 10 circus elephants in Georgia.

Elephants were popular in 1941, the year Walt Disney released his animated film “Dumbo,” and elephant rides for children were a staple at events such as Augusta’s Exchange Club Fair held earlier that fall.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which traveled with dozens of elephants, had been on tour when 10 of the large animals collapsed and died at a stop in Atlanta.

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