The murder took place in the Suffolk village of Peasenhall, the victim was unmarried but well advanced in pregnancy (6 months). It was alleged that the father of the unborn child was said William Gardiner, as he conducted an affair with the victim.
The police originally thought it was suicide, but, after the crime was investigated, the preacher was unsuccessfully tried twice. Both times the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The prosecution then issued a writ of nolle prosequi. This was contrary to the usual process of a formal acquittal. The consequence of this is that Gardiner is one of the few people in English history to have been tried for murder and to have no verdict ever returned.
Julian Fellowes believes the murder was perpetrated by Gardiner's wife, probably due to jealousy. He also speculates that the wife would have confessed if he had been convicted.