Were Larry Hall and His Dad Gravediggers in Real Life?

Image Credit: Dateline NBC/NBC

The fourth episode of Apple TV+’s crime series ‘Black Bird’ depicts the troubled childhood of suspected serial killer Larry DeWayne Hall. Larry, when he was a child, was forced by his gravedigger father to re-dug the graves to steal valuables from corpses. He talks about his experience to James “Jimmy” Keene, who gets transferred to Springfield to elicit Larry’s confession to the supposed murder of Tricia Reitler.

Since the fourth episode offers several vignettes of Larry digging graves and collecting ornaments from dead bodies, even by severing a finger of the corpse to steal a ring, the viewers must be intrigued to know whether the suspected killer and his father were really gravediggers in real life. Well, let us share what we know!

Were Larry Hall and Robert Hall Gravediggers?

Larry’s father Robert Hall worked as a sexton at the Falls Cemetery, located on the southwest side of Wabash, Indiana. He was the gravedigger at the cemetery and lived in the house allocated to the sexton of the place with his wife Aera Hall AKA Berniece Hall and two sons named Gary and Larry Hall. In an interview with CNN, Larry’s brother Gary revealed that the two brothers started working at the cemetery at the age of 12, seemingly indicating that Larry was also a gravedigger when he was a child as the show depicts.

Image Credit: To Catch a Serial Killer/CNN

However, it is unsure whether the specific detail of Larry stealing valuables from the coffins buried in the cemetery, following the instructions of his father Robert, is true. The particular detail is not seemingly present in ‘In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer,’ the source text of the show, written by James Keene and Hillel Levin. Still, it can be a factual detail discovered by the show’s creator Dennis Lehane during his independent research. Regardless of the reality behind the particular detail, it is apparent that Larry’s childhood life in the cemetery, digging graves for the dead, had affected the way he viewed the world and death.

Although the source text cannot seemingly confirm whether Larry really stole the valuables from coffins, Jimmy and Levin’s book states that the suspected killer’s childhood was not pleasant. According to the source text, at the age of 15, Larry and Gary were arrested for breaking the windows of a downtown storefront. “It took a long time before we could crack the Hall brothers. They were just kids, but they held up better than hardened criminals, even over something as petty as broken windows,” revealed Wabash detective Ron Smith, as per ‘In with the Devil.’

Jimmy and Levin’s book also states that Larry was “terrified” of Robert, as the show depicts. The Halls also suffered financial difficulties, which did increase when Robert lost his job as a gravedigger. As per ‘In with the Devil,’ Robert was fired from the Falls Cemetery when he started to put dead bodies on the wrong gravesites, in addition to his intolerable alcoholism. When Robert was fired, the Halls also had to leave the house allocated for them in the cemetery and move to a shack with just one bedroom.

In the show, Larry reveals that his life in the cemetery as an unofficial gravedigger made him fearless with regard to death and corpses. It can be true in real life as well since he did live in such an environment.

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