I Was Accused of Murder – Who Am I?

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Mission Complete – Thanks Everyone!

This quiz was inspired by my daughter, who claimed that murderers were far more interesting than comedians! Just to make it a little harder, I decided to limit my murderers (or accused murderers) to women.

It was  was quite difficult to find ten women, especially as I wanted their ‘cases’ to be ‘different’.  There are two American, one Australian and seven British women – and that’s the only clue that I’m giving for now!

50 thoughts on “I Was Accused of Murder – Who Am I?”

  1. Don’t frustrate me so early in the morning 🙂

    I’ve spent 15/30 minutes looking up murderesses that I know and am still none the wiser.

    As usual I’ve no idea but I’m gonna guess 9 is that Chamberlain woman accused of the dingo ‘murder’

  2. Christopher

    3. Lizzie Andrew Borden (1860-1927) was tried for the murders of her father and stepmother. She was acquitted, but she has remained a notorious figure in American folklore.

    On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden had gone into Fall River to do his usual rounds at the bank and post office. He returned home at about 10:45 a.m.; Lizzie Borden found his body about 30 minutes later.

    During the murder trial, the Borden’s twenty-six year old maid, Bridget Sullivan, testified that she was lying down in her room on the third floor of the house shortly after 11:00 a.m. when she heard Lizzie call to her, saying someone had killed her father; his body was found slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room. Andrew Borden’s face was turned to the right hand side, apparently at ease, as if he was asleep.

    Shortly thereafter, while Lizzie was being tended by neighbours and the family doctor, Sullivan discovered the body of Abby Borden in the guest bedroom located upstairs. Both Andrew and Abby Borden had been killed by crushing blows to their skulls from a hatchet. Andrew Borden’s left eyeball was cleanly split in two.

    Andrew was known by family, friends, and business associates as tight-fisted and generally rejected modern conveniences. Conflict had increased between the two daughters and their father about his decision to divide the valuable properties among relatives before his death.

    Lizzie Borden was arrested and jailed on August 11, 1892. Her stories proved to be inconsistent, and her behaviour suspicious. A Grand Jury began hearings on November 7, 1892. After evidence was presented, a Bill of Indictment for murder was delivered on December 2, 1892. Her murder trial in New Bedford, Massachusetts was not until June 1893.

    During the police investigation, a hatchet was found in the basement and was assumed to be the murder weapon. Though it was clean, most of its handle was missing and the prosecution stated that it had been broken off because it was covered with blood. Police officer Michael Mullaly testified that he found the head of the hatchet next to a hatchet handle; Deputy Marshall John Fleet contradicted this testimony. Later, a forensics expert said there was no time for the hatchet to be cleaned after the murder. The prosecution was hampered by the fact that the Fall River police did not put credence in the then-new forensic technology of fingerprinting, and refused to take prints from the hatchet.

    No blood-soaked clothing was found as evidence by police. A few days after the murder, Lizzie tore apart and burned a blue dress in the kitchen stove, claiming she had brushed against fresh baseboard paint that had smeared on it.

    Despite incriminating evidence and testimony presented by the prosecution, Lizzie was acquitted on June 20, 1893, after the jury deliberated only an hour and a half. The fact that no murder weapon was found and no blood evidence was noted just a few minutes after the second murder pointed to reasonable doubt. Her entire original inquest testimony was barred from the trial. Also excluded was testimony regarding her attempt to purchase prussic acid some weeks earlier. Adding to the doubt was another axe murder which took place shortly before the trial and was perpetrated by a man named José Correira. While many of the details in both murders were similar, but Correira was proven to be out of the country when the Borden murder took place.

    After the trial, Lizzie and Emma Borden moved to a new house, with all modern conveniences!

    The sisters settled all claims against them from Abby’s side of the family, giving Abby Borden’s family members everything they wanted in order to avoid further lawsuits. Because it was proven that Abby died before Andrew, all of her estate legally went to Andrew, with Andrew’s estate going to his daughters. The settlement reached between the Borden sisters and Abby’s two sisters was substantial.

    Several theories have been presented over the years suggesting Lizzie Borden may not have committed the murders, and that other suspects may have had motives. One theory is that the Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, actually committed the murders. This theory suggests that Sullivan was angry with the Bordens for being asked to clean the windows, a taxing job on a hot day, and just one day after having suffered from food poisoning. Another potential suspect was suggested by Arnold R. Brown in his work, Lizzie Borden: The Legend, The Truth, The Final Chapter. In his book, Brown theorizes that the murderer was William Borden, Andrew Borden’s illegitimate son and the half-brother of the Borden sisters. Brown believes that Lizzie’s half brother committed the murders out of revenge following his failed efforts to extort money from his father.

    Yet another theory is that Lizzie suffered temporal lobe seizures during her menstrual cycle. During these seizures, Lizzie was known to enter a fugue state which, as this theory suggests, would have allowed her to unknowingly commit the murders.

  3. Since I missed the last one, 7 is Belle Gunness. Think what you want of the USA, when it comes to murder, the Americans do it with a style and flair like no one else!

  4. No Christopher – No. 7 isn’t Belle Gunness! Although this one certainly did it with style!

  5. No Soutie – as an extra clue – I avoided all murderers who terrorised their victims beforehand.

    A “Good Murder” for Money, Sex or Passion is one thing… but I wouldn’t give the Hindleys of this world space on one of my quizzes!

  6. Christopher

    1. Ruth Ellis nee Neilson (1926-1955) was the last woman to be executed in the United Kingdom. Ruth was born in Rhyl, Wales. The family later moved to Basingstoke.

    Ruth left school at fourteen to work as a waitress. Shortly afterwards, in 1941, the Neilsons moved to London. In 1944, 17-year-old Ruth became pregnant by a married Canadian soldier and gave birth to a son, Clare Andrea Neilson

    Ellis became a nightclub hostess via nude modelling work, which paid significantly more than the various factory and clerical jobs she had held since leaving school. Morris Conley, the manager of the Court Club in Duke St., where she worked, blackmailed his hostess employees into sleeping with him. Early in 1950, having also taken up prostitution, she became pregnant by one of her regular customers. She had this pregnancy terminated (illegally) in the third month and returned to work as soon as she could.

    On 8 November 1950, she married 41-year-old George Ellis, a divorced dentist with two sons, at the registry office in Tonbridge, Kent. He had been a customer at the Court Club. He was a violent alcoholic, jealous and possessive, and the marriage deteriorated rapidly because he was convinced she was having an affair. Ellis left him several times but always returned. In 1951, she gave birth to daughter Georgina, but George refused to acknowledge paternity and they separated shortly afterwards. Ellis moved in with her parents, and went back to hostessing to make ends meet. Georgina was also under the care of her mother.

    Earlier that year, while pregnant with Georgina, Ellis had appeared, uncredited, in Lady Godiva Rides Again. The film starred Dennis Price, Dana Wynter, and her friend Diana Dors – who later starred in a film about Ruth.

    By 1953, Ellis had become the manager of a nightclub and had a number of celebrity friends. She met David Blakely, three years her junior, through racing driver Mike Hawthorn. Blakely was a well-mannered former public school boy, but also a hard-drinking racer. Within weeks he moved into her flat above the club, despite being engaged to another woman, Mary Dawson. She became pregnant for the fourth time but aborted the child, feeling she could not reciprocate the level of commitment shown by Blakely towards their relationship.

    Ellis then began seeing Desmond Cussens. The relationship with Blakely continued, however, and became increasingly violent and embittered as Ellis and Blakely continued to see other people. Blakely offered to marry Ellis, to which she consented, but she lost another child in January 1955, after a miscarriage induced by a punch to the stomach in an argument with Blakely.

    On Easter Sunday, 10 April 1955, Ellis took a taxi from Cussen’s home to a second floor flat at 29 Tanza Road, Hampstead, the home of Anthony and Carole Findlater and where she suspected Blakely might be. As she arrived, Blakely’s car drove off, so she paid off the taxi and walked to The Magdala, a four-storey public house in South Hill Park, Hampstead, where she found David’s car parked outside.

    At around 9:30 pm David Blakely and his friend Clive Gunnell emerged. Blakely passed Ellis waiting on the pavement when she stepped out of Henshaws Doorway, a newsagent next to The Magdala. He ignored her when she said “Hello, David,” then shouted “David!”

    As Blakely searched for the keys to his car, Ellis took a .38 calibre Smith & Wesson Victory model revolver from her handbag and fired five shots at Blakely. The first shot missed and he started to run, pursued by Ellis round the car, where she fired a second, which caused him to collapse onto the pavement. She then stood over him and fired three more bullets into him. One bullet was fired less than half an inch from Blakely’s back and left powder burns on his skin.

    Ellis was seen to stand mesmerized over the body and witnesses reported hearing several distinct clicks as she tried to fire the revolver’s sixth and final shot, before finally firing into the ground. This bullet ricocheted off the road and injured Gladys Kensington Yule, 53, in the base of her thumb, as she walked to the Magdala.

    Ellis, in a state of shock, asked Gunnell, “Will you call the police, Clive?” She was arrested immediately by an off-duty policeman, who took the still-smoking gun from her, put it in his coat pocket, and heard her say, “I am guilty, I’m a little confused”. She was taken to Hampstead police station where she appeared to be calm and not obviously under the influence of drink or drugs. She made a detailed confession to the police and was charged with murder.

    No solicitor was present during Ellis’s interrogation or during the taking of her statement at Hampstead police station, although three police officers were present that night at 11.30 pm: Detective Inspector Gill, Detective Inspector Crawford and Detective Chief Inspector Davies. Ellis was still without legal representation when she made her first appearance at the magistrates’ court on 11 April 1955 and held on remand.

    On Monday, 20 June 1955, Ellis appeared in the Number One Court at the Old Bailey, London, before Mr. Justice Havers. When asked “When you fired the revolver at close range into the body of David Blakely, what did you intend to do?” She replied “It’s obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him”. It was the only question put to her.

    The jury took 14 minutes to convict her. She received the sentence, and was taken to the condemned cell at Holloway. In a 2010 television interview Mr Justice Havers’ grandson, actor Nigel Havers, said his grandfather had written to the Home Secretary recommending a reprieve as he regarded it as a crime passionnel, but received a curt refusal, which was still held by the family. It has been suggested that the final nail in her coffin was that an innocent passer-by had been injured.

    Reluctantly, on the day before her execution, Ellis revealed more evidence about the shooting and said that the gun had been provided by Cussen, and that he had driven her to the murder scene. Following their 90-minute interview in the condemned cell, Mishcon and Simmons went to the Home Office, where they spoke to a senior civil servant about Ellis’s revelations. The authorities made no effort to follow this up and there was no reprieve.

    Ellis’s husband, George Ellis, descended into alcoholism and hanged himself in 1958. Her son, Andy, who was 10 at the time of his mother’s hanging, suffered irreparable psychological damage and committed suicide in a bedsit in 1982. The trial judge, Sir Cecil Havers, had sent money every year for Andy’s upkeep, and Christmas Humphreys, the prosecution counsel at Ellis’s trial, paid for his funeral. Ellis’s daughter, Georgina, who was three when her mother was executed, was adopted when her father hanged himself three years later. She died of cancer aged 50.

    7. Mary Anne Cotton nee Robson (1832-1873) was an English serial killer believed to have murdered up to 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning. Mary Ann Robson was born in what is now the City of Sunderland. Her father Michael, a miner, was ardently religious and a fierce disciplinarian.

    At the age of 20, Mary Ann married William Mowbray in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; they soon moved to Plymouth, Devon. The couple had five children, four of whom died from gastric fever or stomach pains. William and Mary Ann moved back to the North East where they had, and lost, three more children. William became a foreman at South Hetton Colliery and then a fireman aboard a steam vessel. He died of an intestinal disorder in January 1865. William’s life was insured by the British and Prudential Insurance office and Mary Ann collected a payout of £35 on his death, equivalent to about half a year’s wages for a manual labourer at the time.

    Soon after Mowbray’s death, Mary Ann moved to Seaham Harbour, County Durham, where she struck up a relationship with Joseph Nattrass. He, however, was engaged to another woman and she left Seaham after Nattrass’s wedding. During this time, her 3½-year-old daughter died, leaving her with 1 child out of the 9 she had borne. Nattrass, however, was not gone from Mary Ann’s life. She returned to Sunderland and worked at the Sunderland Infirmary, House of Recovery for the Cure of Contagious Fever, Dispensary and Humane Society. She sent her remaining child, Isabella, to live with her Grandmother Robson-Stott.

    One of her patients was an engineer, George Ward. They married in Monkwearmouth in August 1865. George continued to suffer ill health; he died in October 1866 after a long illness characterised by paralysis and intestinal problems. The attending doctor later gave evidence that Ward had been very ill, yet he had been surprised that the man’s death was so sudden. Once again, Mary Ann collected insurance money from her husband’s death.

    James Robinson was a shipwright at Pallion, Sunderland, whose wife, Hannah, had recently died. James hired Mary Ann as a housekeeper in November 1866. One month later, when James’ baby died of gastric fever, he turned to his housekeeper for comfort and she became pregnant. Then Mary Ann’s mother, living in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, became ill so Mary immediately went to her. Although her mother started getting better, she also began to complain of stomach pains. She died at age 54 on June 9, nine days after Mary Ann’s arrival.

    Mary Ann’s daughter Isabella, from the marriage to William Mowbray, was brought back to the Robinson household and soon developed bad stomach pains and died; so did another two of James’ children. All three children were buried in the last 2 weeks of April 1867. Four months later, the grieving widower father married Mary Ann. Baby Mary Isabella was born that November, but she became ill with familiar symptoms and died in March 1868.

    James, meanwhile, had become suspicious of his wife’s insistence that he insure his life; he discovered that she had run up debts of £60 behind his back and had stolen more than £50 that she was supposed to have banked. The last straw was when he found she had been forcing his children to pawn household valuables for her. He threw her out.

    Mary Ann was desperate and living on the streets. Then her friend Margaret Cotton introduced her to her brother, Frederick, a pitman and recent widower living in Walbottle, Northumberland, who had lost two of his four children. Margaret had acted as substitute mother for the remaining children, Frederick Jr. and Charles. But in late March 1870 she died from an undetermined stomach ailment, leaving Mary Ann to console the grieving Frederick Sr. Soon her eleventh pregnancy was underway.

    Frederick and Mary Ann were bigamously married in September 1870 and their son Robert was born early in 1871. Soon after, Mary Ann learnt that her former lover, Joseph Nattrass, was living in the nearby village of West Auckland, and no longer married. She rekindled the romance and persuaded her new family to move near him. Frederick followed his predecessors to the grave in December of that year, from “gastric fever.” Insurance had been taken out on his life and the lives of his sons.

    After Frederick’s death, Nattrass soon became Mary Ann’s lodger. She gained employment as nurse to an excise officer recovering from smallpox, John Quick-Manning. Soon she became pregnant by him with her twelfth child.

    Frederick Jr. died in March 1872 and the infant Robert soon after. Then Nattrass became ill with gastric fever, and died — just after revising his will in Mary Ann’s favour.

    The insurance policy Mary Ann had taken out on Charles Cotton’s life still awaited collection.

    Mary Ann’s downfall came when she was asked by a parish official, Thomas Riley, to help nurse a woman who was ill with smallpox. She complained that the last surviving Cotton boy, Charles Edward, was in the way and asked Riley if he could be committed to the workhouse. Riley, who also served as West Auckland’s assistant coroner, said she would have to accompany him. She told Riley that the boy was sickly and added: “I won’t be troubled long. He’ll go like all the rest of the Cottons.”

    Riley replied: “No, nothing of the kind — he is a fine, healthy boy,” so he was shocked five days later when Mary Ann told him that the lad had died. Riley went to the village police and convinced the doctor to delay writing a death certificate until the circumstances could be investigated.

    Mary Ann’s first port of call after Charles’ death was not the doctor’s but the insurance office. There, she discovered that no money would be paid out until a death certificate was issued. An inquest was held and the jury returned a verdict of natural causes. Mary Ann claimed to have used arrowroot to relieve his illness and said Riley had made accusations against her because she had rejected his advances.

    Then the local newspapers latched on to the story and discovered Mary Ann had moved around northern England and lost three husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother, and a dozen children, all of whom had died of stomach fevers.

    Rumour turned to suspicion and forensic inquiry. The doctor who attended Charles had kept samples, and they tested positive for arsenic. He went to the police, who arrested Mary Ann and ordered the exhumation of Charles’ body. She was charged with his murder, although the trial was delayed until after the delivery of Quick-Manning’s child.

    Mary Ann Cotton’s trial began on Wednesday, 5 March 1873. The defence claimed that Charles died from inhaling arsenic used as a dye in the green wallpaper of the Cotton home. The jury retired for 90 minutes before finding Mary Ann guilty. Mary Ann Cotton was hanged at Durham County Gaol on 24 March, 1873.

  7. Donald – No it isn’t! Quite apart from the fact there is no evidence that she was a murderess – she was Italian!

  8. Hiya Boadicea and thanks for another great brain-teaser. I recognised Ruth Ellis, but Christopher was awake before me. #4 seems familiar yet I can’t put a name to the face. Otherwise, I’m stumped.



  9. Donald

    Right! Died at 100 in Sydney.
    2. Constance Emilie Kent (1844-1944). Sometime between the night of 29 June and the morning of 30 June 1860, three-year-old Francis Savill Kent disappeared from his home, Road Hill House, in the village of Rode (spelled “Road” at the time), in Somerset. His body was found in the vault of an outhouse (a privy) on the property. The child, still dressed in his nightshirt and wrapped in a blanket, had knife wounds on his chest and hands, and his throat was slashed so deeply that the body was almost decapitated. Although the boy’s nursemaid was initially arrested, she was soon released and the suspicions of detective Jonathan Whicher of Scotland Yard moved to the boy’s sixteen-year-old half-sister, Constance. She was arrested on 16 July, but released without trial. The family moved to Wrexham, in the north of Wales, and sent Constance to a convent.

    Constance Kent was prosecuted for the murder five years later, in 1865. She made a statement confessing her guilt to a Church of England clergyman, the Rev. Arthur Wagner, and she expressed to him her resolution to give herself up to justice. He assisted her in carrying out this resolution and he gave evidence of this statement before the magistrates. But he prefaced his evidence by a declaration that he must withhold any further information on the ground that it had been received under the seal of “sacramental confession” (see: Seal of the Confessional). He was but lightly pressed by the magistrates, the fact of the matter being that the prisoner was not defending the charge.

    The substance of the confession was that she had waited until the family and servants were asleep, had gone down to the drawing-room and opened the shutters and window, had then taken the child from his room wrapped in a blanket that she had taken from between sheet and counterpane in his cot (leaving both these undisturbed or readjusted), left the house and killed him in the privy with a razor stolen from her father. Her movements before the killing had been conducted with the child in her arms. It had been necessary to hide matches in the privy beforehand for a light to see by during the act of murder. The murder was not a spontaneous act, it seems, but one of revenge – and it was even suggested that Constance had, at certain times, been mentally unbalanced.

    There was much speculation at the time that Constance Kent’s confession was false. Many supposed that her father Samuel Savill (or Saville) Kent, a known adulterer, was having an affair with the toddler’s nursemaid, and in a fit of rage, murdered the child after coitus interruptus. It fitted a pattern with the senior Kent, who had romanced the family nanny Mary Drewe Pratt while his first wife Mary Ann Kent née Windus (Constance’s mother) was dying, and subsequently married Mary Drewe Pratt (who was Francis’s mother). Many were suspicious of Mr. Kent from the start, including the novelist Charles Dickens.

    Constance Kent was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life in prison owing to her youth at the time and her confession. She served 20 years in a number of prisons including Millbank Prison and was released in 1885, at the age of 41.

    Constance Kent emigrated to Australia. She changed her name to Ruth Emilie Kaye and trained as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital, Prahan, Melbourne, before being appointed sister-in-charge of the Female Lazaret at the Coast Hospital, Little Bay, in Sydney. She worked for a decade at the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls from 1898 to 1909, was domiciled in the New South Wales country town of Mittagong for a year, and was then made matron of the Pierce Memorial Nurses’ Home at East Maitland, serving there from 1911 until she retired in 1932, She died in a private hospital in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield at the age of 100, on 10 April 1944.

  10. John

    4. Ann Perry born Juliet Marion Hulme in 1938. The daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an English physicist, Perry (then known as Juliet Hulme) was diagnosed with tuberculosis as a child and sent to the Caribbean and South Africa in hopes that a warmer climate would improve her health. She rejoined her family when her father took a position as Rector of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand when she was 13.

    Together with her school friend Pauline Parker, Hulme murdered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper. On 22 June 1954, the girls took Honora Rieper for a walk in Victoria Park in their hometown of Christchurch. On an isolated path Hulme dropped an ornamental stone so that Ms. Rieper would lean over to retrieve it. At that point, Parker had planned to hit her mother with half a brick wrapped in a stocking. The girls presumed that would kill the woman. Instead, it took 45 frenzied blows from both girls to finally kill Honora Rieper. The brutality of the crime has contributed to its notoriety.

    Parker and Hulme stood trial in Christchurch in 1954, and were found guilty on August 29 of that year. As they were too young to be considered for the death penalty under New Zealand law at the time, they were convicted and sentenced to be “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure”. In practice, this sentence meant they were to be detained at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. They were released separately some five years later. A condition of their release was that they were never to meet or contact each other again.

    After being released from prison, Hulme returned to England and became a flight attendant. For a period she lived in the United States, where she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1968. She later settled in the Scottish village of Portmahomack where she lived with her mother. Her father went on to a distinguished scientific career, heading the British hydrogen bomb programme.

    Hulme took the name Anne Perry, the latter being her stepfather’s surname. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979. Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Many of them feature a number of recurring characters, most importantly Thomas Pitt, who appeared in her first novel, and amnesiac private investigator William Monk, who first appeared in her 1990 novel The Face of a Stranger. As of 2003 she had published 47 novels, and several collections of short stories.

  11. Donald

    Well Done – especially since I forget that she was French and was only accused in England!
    . Adelaide Blanche Bartlett, born Adelaide Blanche de la Tremoille in 1855 in France. Thomas Edwin Bartlett (known as Edwin) and Adelaide were married in 1875. According to Adelaide, it was intended to be a platonic marriage, but in 1881 she had a stillborn baby by Edwin.

    Early in 1885, they met Dyson as the local Wesleyan minister and he became a frequent visitor. Edwin made Dyson executor of his will, in which he left his entire estate to Adelaide, on condition that she didn’t remarry. If the story Adelaide and Dyson told is true, Edwin encouraged Dyson to romance his wife. Edwin himself was suffering several unpleasant illnesses (including rotting teeth and tapeworms).

    Towards the end of 1885 Adelaide asked Dyson to get some chloroform that was prescribed by the doctor treating Edwin, Dr. Alfred Leach. Leach would later admit that he prescribed it reluctantly, but at the insistence of his patient. Under the laws of the day regarding purchasing large amounts of potential medical poisons, one had to sign a book at chemist’s pharmacy as a record – but not if the amounts purchased were small. Adelaide had Dyson buy four small bottles of chloroform instead of one large bottle, and had him buy them in several shops. Only after Edwin’s death, did Dyson claim to suddenly realize how suspicious his actions were.

    On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1885, Edwin Bartlett returned from a visit to the dentist and went to sleep alongside Adelaide in their Pimlico flat. Just before 4 am the next morning Adelaide asked their maid to fetch Dr Leach, fearing Edwin was dead, before rousing the landlady. Edwin’s stomach was filled with liquid chloroform. It is just possible that the stories of Edwin’s alleged suicide may have been believed and his death considered free of foul play, except that his father, who had always detested Adelaide, became extremely suspicious and convinced authorities to look into the death. This eventually led to the arrests of both Adelaide and Dyson. However, within a couple of days, charges were dropped against the Reverend, and he became a witness for the Crown against Mrs. Bartlett.

    The trial attracted huge media coverage at the time, both in the UK and abroad.

    Adelaide Bartlett was extremely fortunate in her choice of barrister: Sir Edward Clarke, possibly the finest barrister of late Victorian England. He was able to show sufficient ambiguities against the deceased to make the suicide theory barely possible. His tactics with Dr. Leach, the elder Bartlett and Reverend Dyson were sufficient to gain his client an acquittal.

    The main forensic aid to Mrs. Bartlett is that liquid chloroform burns. It cannot pass down to the stomach without burning the sides of the throat and the larynx. Edwin did not have such burns on his body; this suggests that he was actually able (somehow) to gulp the chloroform down quickly. It bolstered the suicide theory a little, for such rapid drinking suggested that the drinker rushed the poisoned drink down.

    When the jury returned to court the foreman said: “although we think grave suspicion is attached to the prisoner, we do not think there is sufficient evidence to show how or by whom the chloroform was administered.” The foreman then confirmed that the verdict was not guilty, which was greeted with “rapturous applause”, public opinion having moved in Adelaide’s favour during the course of the trial

    The issue of how the poison got into Edwin’s stomach without burning him internally in the throat led the famous surgeon, Sir James Paget, to make his famous quip

    “Now that she has been acquitted for murder and cannot be tried again, she should tell us in the interest of science how she did it!”

  12. “Now that she has been acquitted for murder and cannot be tried again, she should tell us in the interest of science how she did it!”

    First you use the chloroform in the usual manner ( wet cloth against face ) to put the victim to sleep …

    Chloroform has the advantage of also being a muscle relaxant so that if ….

    You stuff a thin but long rubber tube down the throat and pump the rest of it into him…

    The throat muscles being relaxed will not show any injuries, marks or lesions. 🙂

  13. Peter

    8. Frances Carr (1590-1632). Born Frances Howard into the powerful family of the Dukes of Norfolk, Frances was married at the age of 14 to Robert Devereux, the 13 year old Earl of Essex. The marriage was not consummated – initially because both parties were too young and later because Essex proved to be impotent. Frances had fallen in love with James I’s favourite, Robert Carr and it is thought that Frances ‘encouraged’ her husband’s impotence with potions.

    Eventually Frances prevailed upon her father and uncle to seek an annulment of her marriage on the grounds of impotence. She was examined by ten matrons and two mid-wives and found to be still a virgin. Essex stated that he was perfectly capable with other women, but not with his wife who he claimed ‘reviled him, and miscalled him, terming him a cow, and coward, and beast.’

    Sir Thomas Overbury, a poet and essayist, had been a close friend of Robert Carr for some years. He was opposed to Carr’s marriage to Frances stating that she was ‘noted for her injury and immodesty’. He then wrote a poem, entitled ‘The Wife’ which was a picture of the virtues which a young man should demand in a woman before he has the rashness to marry her. It was represented to Lady Essex that Overbury’s object in writing this poem was to open the eyes of his friend to her defects. The Norfolk family managed to get Overbury imprisoned in the Tower, where he died on the 15th of September 1613.

    Almost immediately, James I intervened in Frances’ annulment case and an annulment was granted on 25th September 1613. Frances married Robert Carr on the 26th of December that year.

    Rumours of foul play in Overbury’s death began circulating and almost two years later, in September 1615, and as James was in the process of replacing Carr with a new favourite, the Governor of the Tower sent a letter to the King, informing him that one of the warders had been bringing the prisoner “poisoned food and medicine.” James showed a disinclination to delve into the matter, but the rumours refused to go away. Eventually, they began hinting at the King’s own involvement, forcing him to order an investigation. The details of the murder were uncovered by Edward Coke and Sir Francis Bacon who presided over the trial of Frances and Robert Carr for murder.

    It was not known at the time, and it is not certain now, how much Carr participated in the first crime, or if he was ignorant of it. Lady Essex, however, was not satisfied with having had Overbury shut up; she was determined that “he should return no more to this stage.” She had Sir William Wade, the honest Lord Lieutenant of the Tower, removed to make way for a new Lieutenant, Sir Gervase Helwys; and a gaoler, of whom it was ominously said that he was “a man well acquainted with the power of drugs,” was set to attend on Overbury. Weston, afterwards aided by Mrs Turner, the widow of a physician, and by an apothecary called Franklin, plied Overbury with sulphuric acid in the form of copper vitriol.

    Frances admitted a part in Overbury’s murder, Robert did not. Fearing what Carr might say about him in court, James repeatedly sent messages to the Tower pleading with him to admit his guilt in return for a pardon. “It is easy to be seen that he would threaten me with laying an aspersion upon me of being, in some sort, accessory to his crime”. The couple were found guilty and sentenced to death; nonetheless, they were eventually pardoned and released from prison. Four accomplices – Robert Weston, Anne Turner, Gervaise Helwys, and Simon Franklin – were also found guilty and, lacking powerful connections, were hanged.

  14. Peter

    Another Brownie Point!

    6. Mary Surratt nee Jenkins (1823-1865) was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Sentenced to death, she was the first woman executed by the United States federal government, and was hanged. She was the mother of John Surratt, who was later tried but was not convicted in the assassination.

    Surratt was born in the southern Maryland town of Waterloo. She had two brothers. She John Harrison Surratt, a farmer of French ancestry, in 1839, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-seven. His family had settled in Maryland in the 18th century and the community in which they lived, Surrattsville, was named for the Surratt family. The couple had three children, Isaac (born in 1841), Elizabeth Susanna (“Anna”, 1843), and John, Jr. (1844).

    The Surratts engaged in many livelihoods over the next two decades. They farmed tobacco on a 287-acre tract purchased in 1852 and supplemented their income by operating a general store, a gristmill, a tavern, and a post office. They were nevertheless continually plagued by financial worries, problems exacerbated by John Surratt’s drinking. One biographer suggested that John Surratt was physically and emotionally abusive to his wife.

    Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, the border state of Maryland remained in the Union. However, the Surratts were Confederate sympathizers like many other Southern farmers. Their tavern regularly hosted fellow sympathizers, and their post office did double duty as a United States and Confederate post office. The full extent of the family’s involvement in clandestine Confederate activities may never be known, but it is certain (and was introduced into evidence at Mary Surratt’s trial) that weapons and cash for Confederate agents were stored at the Surratt tavern, which had been leased to John Lloyd.

    John Surratt died suddenly in August 1862. Though the marriage had not been happy, his death left his widow far from relieved as she was in desperate circumstances financially and even in danger of eviction. The family’s slaves had either run away or been repossessed (it is unknown exactly what became of them), the sale of a substantial amount of property which had given hope of resolving the financial difficulties failed because of the buyers’ default, and John’s many creditors still pressed to collect. Mary leased the family farm and tavern to a former Washington, D.C., policeman named John M. Lloyd and moved with her three children to the small but well-located townhouse in the District of Columbia inherited from John Surratt’s relatives and transformed its upper floor into a boarding-house. She employed her only remaining asset in one of the few ways considered respectable for an indigent young widow; with the home’s location convenient to government buildings, she was able to eke out a very modest living for herself and her family.

    Mary Surratt’s older brother, Zadoc Jenkins, was arrested by Union forces for trying to prevent an occupying Federal soldier from voting in the Maryland elections that gave Lincoln a second term. Surratt’s son John Surratt later admitted that he was actively involved in an earlier plot to kidnap the president, but claimed he was not involved in the assassination. After a lengthy evasion of justice and overseas capture to be returned to stand trial for the assassination of the President, John testified at his that he had been in Elmira, New York, en route to Montreal, Canada, when Lincoln was shot. He also denied that his mother had been involved in the plot in any way.

    On the day of the assassination, Mary rode out to her tavern with one of her boarders, Louis J. Weichmann, a young War Department clerk, who was a friend of her son, John Surratt, Jr. Although Mary Surratt claimed to have made the journey to collect back rent owed by her tenant, John Lloyd, Lloyd later testified against her, saying she gave him a package containing field glasses and told him to “make ready the shooting irons.” This referred to two repeating carbines and seven revolvers that she had bought and stored for the conspirators on her property.

    After assassinating President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, John Wilkes Booth did in fact first stop at the Surrattsville tavern with his accomplice David Herold. John Lloyd, the innkeeper, gave Booth and Herold whiskey, pistols, and one of two Spencer carbines as well as the field glasses. Lloyd claimed Surratt had told him to do this when she arrived earlier that day. Booth and Herold then continued travelling southward, helped by many of the same Southern sympathizers who had aided John Surratt in his activities as a courier for the Confederacy.

    Mary Surratt was arrested on April 17. While Surratt was being questioned by police in her boarding house, Lewis Powell, the former John Mosby’s Ranger who had attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William H. Seward, appeared at her door. Although witnesses later testified Surratt had met Powell several times, thus linking her further to the conspiracy, she denied ever having seen him before.

    Held in military custody under sweltering conditions, Mary Surratt had her head enclosed in a padded canvas bag to prevent a suicide attempt. She was also kept manacled and was constantly guarded by four soldiers. For two weeks after her arrest and before her trial, she was held on board a warship that was being used as a prison for the conspirators. Her cell was sparse and equipped with only a straw pallet and a bucket.

    Tried by a nine-member military commission beginning on May 9, 1865, Surratt was the oldest conspirator on trial and the only woman. During the trial, a newspaper described Mary Surratt as a rather attractive, 5 ft 6 in, buxom, 42-year-old widow. She and Lewis Powell received the most attention from the press. Defended by Frederick Aiken, who worked under Revered Johnson, Surratt maintained her innocence throughout the trial, denying any knowledge of the assassination plot. The evidence against her presented by the prosecution included a hidden photograph of John Wilkes Booth found in her house and bullet moulds on top of her dresser.

    The trial of the alleged conspirators continued until late June, following which the nine-member commission deliberated its verdict on June 28 and 29. On June 30, Surratt was sentenced to death by hanging for treason, conspiracy, and plotting murder, although the court attached to its finding a recommendation of commutation of her death sentence to life imprisonment, because of her sex and age.

    Despite the desperate pleas of her daughter, her priest, and her lawyer, President Andrew Johnson signed her death warrant. Johnson later denied seeing the military judges’ recommendation that Surratt’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, but presiding judge Joseph Holt said that Johnson read the recommendation and discussed it with him. Johnson, according to Holt, said in signing the death warrant that she had “kept the nest that hatched the egg”.

  15. OZ

    5. Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (1910-1934) was born in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children. Her father, Charles Parker, a bricklayer, died when Bonnie was four. Her mother, Emma Krause, moved with the children to her parents’ home in Cement City, an industrial suburb of Dallas, where she found work as a garment sewer. Parker was one of the best students in her high school, winning top prizes in spelling, writing and public speaking. As an adult, her fondness for writing found expression in poems such as “The Story of Suicide Sal”[10] and “The Trail’s End” (known since as “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde”).

    Parker did not date until she was in her second year of high school, but in that year she fell in love with a classmate, Roy Thornton, whose good looks and smart clothes caught her schoolgirl’s eye. The two quit school and were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Parker’s sixteenth birthday. Their marriage, marked by his frequent absences and brushes with the law, was short-lived, and after January 1929 their paths never crossed again. But they were never divorced, and Parker was wearing Thornton’s wedding ring when she died.

    In 1929, between the breakdown of her marriage and her first meeting with Clyde Barrow in January 1930, Parker lived with her mother and worked as a waitress in Dallas; one of her regular customers in the café was postal worker Ted Hinton, who would join the Dallas Sheriff’s Department in 1932, and as a posse member would participate in her ambush in 1934. In the diary she kept briefly early in 1929, she wrote of her desperate loneliness, her impatience with life in provincial Dallas, and her love of a newfangled technology — talking pictures.

    Bonnie probably met Clyde Barrow in 1930 at a friend’s home. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1934. Though known today for his dozen-or-so bank robberies, Barrow in fact preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations. The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and committed several civilian murders. The couple themselves were eventually ambushed and killed in Louisiana by law officers. Their reputation was cemented in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.

    Even during their lifetimes, the couple’s depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the hardscrabble reality of their life on the road—particularly in the case of Parker. Though she was present at a hundred or more felonies during her two years as Barrow’s companion, she was not the machine gun-wielding cartoon killer portrayed in the newspapers, newsreels and pulpy detective magazines of the day. Gang member W. D. Jones was unsure whether he had ever seen her fire at officers. Parker’s reputation as a cigar-smoking gun moll grew out of a playful snapshot found by police at an abandoned hideout, released to the press, and published nationwide; while she did chain-smoke Camel cigarettes, she was not a cigar smoker.

    Author-historian Jeff Guinn explains that it was the release of these very photos that put the outlaws on the media map and launched their legend: “John Dillinger had matinee-idol good looks and Pretty Boy Floyd had the best possible nickname, but the Joplin photos introduced new criminal superstars with the most titillating trademark of all—illicit sex. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were young and unmarried. They undoubtedly slept together—after all, the girl smoked cigars…. Without Bonnie, the media outside Texas might have dismissed Clyde as a gun-toting punk, if it ever considered him at all. With her sassy photographs, Bonnie supplied the sex-appeal, the oomph, that allowed the two of them to transcend the small-scale thefts and needless killings that actually comprised their criminal careers.”

  16. Christopher

    10. Elizabeth Woolcock (1848-1873) was born Elizabeth Lillian Oliver in Burra Burra and was hanged in Adelaide Gaol for the murder of her husband Thomas Woolcock by mercury poisoning. She remains the only woman ever executed in South Australia and is buried between the outer and inner prison walls. It is generally believed that she may have been a victim of domestic violence and suffered from battered spouse syndrome.

    Elizabeth and her family lived in the Kooringa creek dugouts (rooms cut into the high banks of the Kooringa creek) until a flash flood washed their home away in 1852. With no home and having lost all their possessions, Elizabeth’s father joined the Victorian gold rush and moved to Ballarat, the rest of family, along with their babysitter, joined him a few months later taking residence in a tent on the goldfields. Her mother disliked Ballarat and described it as “this horrid, sin stained colony of scoundrels and villains” and, following the death of Elizabeth’s younger sister not long after their arrival moved to Adelaide with another man leaving Elizabeth to be raised by her father with help from his neighbours.

    Following the Eureka Stockade rebellion in 1854, Elizabeth was traumatised after witnessing the death of her fathers friend, Henry Powell at the hands of police in an act of retaliation for the rebellion. A policeman slashed Powell across the head with his sabre while several more policeman then shot him as he lay on the ground. The policemen then trampled the body for some time with their horses. The following year seven year old Elizabeth was raped and left for dead by an itinerant Indian in an attack that left her both psychologically disturbed and unable to have children due to gynaecological damage. Her doctors gave her Opium for the pain to which she subsequently became addicted.

    In 1857 her father died of consumption and Elizabeth was put into service with the family of a pharmacist in Melbourne which gave her easy access to the Opium she needed to feed her drug habit. At the age of 15 she left the household and moved into the Ballarat township, along with a large quantity of Opium she had accumulated, obtaining work in a guest-house. According to a journal written by her friend Hannah Blight, during this time Elizabeth supplied Opium to prostitutes for use as revenge on their more abusive clients in order to punish and rob them.

    In 1865 after receiving news that her mother was alive and looking for her, Elizabeth travelled to Moonta-Moontera (Aboriginal for dense scrub) in South Australia and moved in with her mother and stepfather. To support herself she got work as a housekeeper, on weekends taught Sunday school and there is evidence she even managed to kick her addiction as, unlike the eastern states where they were freely available, opiates required a prescription in South Australia. In 1866 a relative of the family she worked for arrived from England and after moving into the household took over her job which led to Elizabeth’s dismissal.

    Thomas Woolcock emigrated from Cornwall and settled in Moonta with his wife and two children in 1865. His wife and one son contracted a fever and died the following year, and with a young son also named Thomas, to care for he advertised for a live in housekeeper for which Elizabeth applied. Elizabeth’s stepfather disliked Woolcock and considered the live in arrangement scandalous, Woolcock, to avoid gossip married her in the cottages front parlour.

    Woolcock turned out to be a heavy drinker, a bully and a wife-beater. Elizabeth attempted to leave him several times but failed and eventually attempted suicide by hanging herself in the stable but the rafter broke sparing her life. She became addicted again, this time to Morphine. The situation improved somewhat when Woolcock took in a boarder whose presence lessened the abuse she suffered but eventually the two men had a dispute and the boarder left. Not long after he left the family dog died after being poisoned and the boarder was suspected.

    A month after the dog died, Woolcock became ill with stomach pains and nausea, Elizabeth called in three doctors over the following weeks who each diagnosed different illnesses and prescribed different medications. Dr Bull prescribed syrup and pills laced with a third of a grain of Mercury each, for a sore throat but Woolcock became considerably worse and Elizabeth then called in Dr Dickie who diagnosed a gastric disorder and prescribed Rhubarb tablets and cream of tartar which had no effect. Finally Dr Herbert treated him for a sore throat with excessive salivation. Dr Herbert’s treatment worked and Woolcock was improving but two weeks later he decided Herbert’s treatment was too expensive and went back to Dr Dickie who resumed the treatment for a gastric problem. When his condition failed to improve Elizabeth suggested returning to Dr Bull but, according to neighbours and friends who were present and later testified at her trial, Woolcock replied: “I certainly don’t want Dr Bull again, as it was his medicine that made me bad in the first place”.

    Around this time Elizabeth ran out of Morphine and began suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms, the chemist refused to prescribe any more and she resorted to sending her stepson to pharmacies with notes and claiming she needed it to “get stains out”. Her desperation to acquire drugs became common knowledge in the community.

    At 3 am on 4 September 1873, Thomas Woolcock died. Dr Dickie initially stated his patient had died from “pure exhaustion from excessive and prolonged vomiting and purging”. However rumours were already spreading that Woolcock had been poisoned with Morphine and his cousin, Elizabeth Snell, suggested to the doctor that as everyone knew Woolcock’s wife had been getting “Morphia” she could have poisoned him with it. Dr Dickie ordered an inquest largely to quash the rumours as he still believed his original diagnosis was correct.

    The inquest was opened in the front parlour of Woolcock’s cottage with 14 jurors. Dr Dickie testified on the drugs taken by the deceased and the chemist, Mr Opie, testified regarding Elizabeth’s attempts to get Morphine. Elizabeth also testified. An autopsy was ordered and performed in the cottage that night while Elizabeth waited outside.

    The next day the inquest resumed at the Moonta courthouse where Dr Dickie described the state of the body and suggested that Mercury poisoning was a strong probability, Dr Herbert concurred. Dr Bull admitted prescribing pills with Mercury but insisted Woolcock only took one. Police told the inquest that they had found a Mercury rich powder used to treat the Woolcock’s dogs Ringworm. The jury decided that Woolcock was poisoned by his wife and Elizabeth was arrested.

    Elizabeth pled not guilty and the trial in Adelaide was a sensation with crowds filling Gouger Street outside the Supreme Court. The Crown Solicitor argued that Elizabeth had poisoned the dog as an experiment, the ringworm powder was the means and that motive was an affair with the boarder. Defendants at this time were barred from testifying on their own behalf so Elizabeth was unable to answer the accusations. Following a three day trial the jury, after deliberating for 20 minutes, found her guilty with a recommendation for mercy and she was sentenced to death. She was hung on the 30th of December 1873.

    It is unlikely that Elizabeth was having an affair and she had nothing to gain from Woolcock’s death. That she cared for him while he was ill was evidenced by his lack of bed sores and witnesses testified that Elizabeth showed no ill will towards her husband.

    The dog was treated for Ringworm with Mercury laced powder and could have died from Mercury poisoning after licking the powder on its body.

    Woolcock’s symptoms were consistent with Tuberculosis and Dysentery, both of which were found at autopsy, and Typhoid, although this was not found. Woolcock’s organs, removed at autopsy, had been left unattended and exposed to the air for 24 hours before they were examined which could have compromised the diagnosis.

    It was never proven at trial that Woolcock had died of Mercury poisoning or that Elizabeth had administered it.

    Dr Bull prescribed Mercury laced syrup and tablets which would have killed Woolcock if he had taken more than Bull testified to. Bull had been a drug addict himself for 30 years and consumed Atropine, Sulphuric Ether, Chloroform and Opium in large and frequent doses. He was reportedly in a “drug be-fuddled state” when treating Woolcock and several witnesses testified that Thomas has told them that it was Bull’s medicine that had made him so sick. Dr Bull was committed to a psychiatric hospital after the trial and committed suicide several months later.

    Two recently discovered letters sent by Samuel Way to relatives in England shortly before he was appointed Chief Justice of South Australia were commentary on the now lost report into the hanging commissioned by the government of the day and headed by his brother Dr Edward Way. Edward he wrote, concurred with the analytical chemist that the evidence on administration of the poison was “unreliable” and that the “medical evidence mistaken”. The implication is that she did not poison Woolcock and that even if she had been guilty she did not receive justice based on the available evidence.

  17. Yeeessss, he shouted with that stupid clenched fist ‘salute’ with the tensed, upraised elbow so beloved of tennis players! It was a pure guess to be honest, but I do try to get at least one right on these quizzes and this one was a right challenge.

    Cheers, Boadicea, for another good ‘un.


  18. I find myself fascinated by Anne Perry, to go from murderess to writing books about murder is rather unusual as it is but what makes it even more so is the fact that she became successful at it. Most murderers end up in the gutter. 😦

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