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The Murder of Phoebe Hogg

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The Murder of Phoebe Hogg

Post by Karen on Thu 5 May 2011 - 4:32




South Hampstead has been startled by a crime of peculiar atrocity, and surrounded, at present, with deep mystery. A woman, not of the class of whom so many were murdered in the East-end a few months back, has been found brutally killed, lying on a heap of stones, by a half-built house at the corner of Crossfield-road, Eton-avenue. How she was placed there, how the murder was committed, under what circumstances, or even when, are at present unknown to the police. They, however, as a result of observation in the neighbourhood, are inclined to the belief that the crime must have been perpetrated only a short distance from the spot where the body was found, the victim afterwards being carried to the heap of stones. The neighbourhood, being of a residential character, is very little frequented at night. Eton-avenue is a private road at present unadopted by the local authorities, and Crossfield-road, which runs out of it in a northern direction, is only gradually being built upon. At the corner a large villa with spacious grounds is in course of erection, and it was on one of the heaps of stones and broken bricks and rubbish that the body was discovered. The discovery was made last evening between seven and eight o'clock. Only about ten minutes before the police-constable on duty had passed the spot, and, though he had searched through the building, and particularly around the stack of bricks, he had failed to discover anything unusual.


A young gentleman living in Crossfield-road, Mr. S. Macdonald, was passing the spot on his way home when he noticed a woman lying as indicated. He passed on towards his home, but the thought occurred to him that the woman might be ill, and he therefore retraced his steps. The person, whose face he could not see, was still lying at the same spot, quite motionless, and he therefore hastened off in search of a police-constable. Near the Swiss Cottage, St. John's-wood, he found Gardiner, 654 S, on duty, and he gave that officer information of the discovery. The constable at once went with him to the place indicated, and found the woman there, her head covered with a man's sleeveless Cardigan jacket. This was removed, and a ghastly sight presented itself. The head lay a little to the left, the pale face was bespattered with blood, the hair dishevelled and covered in patches of dirt, and a great gash was in the throat. The woman was quite dead, but the body was warm and the limbs had not stiffened. The intelligence of the horrible discovery was speedily conveyed to the local police-station, and several doctors were despatched to the spot. Dr. Poulet Wells was the first to arrive, and he was speedily followed by Dr. Cooper, the divisional police surgeon. A brief examination showed that life was extinct - indeed, that the poor creature must have been dead directly the wound was inflicted, for the head was almost severed from the body.


Meanwhile, plain-clothes officers began to reach the spot, accompanied by Inspectors Bannister (of the Criminal Investigation Department) and Inspector Collis (of the S Division). As quickly as possible the body was removed to the mortuary at New-end, Hampstead, and the police at once instituted a rigid search. All through the night this has been kept up. Through the several half-built houses with which the neighbourhood abounds officers have searched during the whole of the night by the aid of lanterns, but nowhere could anything be found to indicate the precise locality of the murder. That the crime was not committed at the place where the body was found the police are confident. There are several matters which confirm this theory. For instance, there is hardly any blood on the stones where the head lay, there are no signs of a struggle on the soft clay soil of the road, and the police constable passed the spot only a few minutes before the body was found.


The police, as stated, believe the crime was committed within very easy distance of Crossfield-road, and that the body was then removed to the half-finished house. When the body was removed to the mortuary a more minute examination was made. It was then discovered that the back part of the head was smashed in. Terrible blows must have been successively showered upon the head with some blunt instrument, and then a long sharp knife was used to sever the windpipe. How the miscreant succeeded in carrying his hapless victim to the spot without attracting attention and without leaving traces of blood from whence he came is a perfect mystery. To reach the heap of stones the bearer of the ghastly burden was compelled to cross several scaffolding planks lying on the side walk; yet upon these there are no blood-stains. Then, too, the cardigan jacket enveloping the head bears scarcely any blood-marks, thus indicating, in the opinion of the police, that the murderer removed the jacket which he was probably wearing, and covered over the face, in order that the body might not attract attention. The jacket is of fine texture, and the dress of the victim is of a much better quality than that worn by those of the "unfortunate" class, in which category the police do not place her. Indeed, they believe that she must have moved in good middle-class society.


The body is well nourished, and in life the face must have been prepossessing and winsome. The complexion is dark, the eyes are blue, and the hair black. The hapless victim was apparently about thirty years of age, and was five feet six inches in height. She wore a very good astrachan jacket, with a black cashmere dress, red-and-yellow striped petticoat, white petticoat, and a white chemise, marked "P.H." in red cotton. There was also a white woven under-bodice, or vest, of peculiar make, blue stockings, with suspenders, and a white collar, horribly stained with blood, fastened with a silver brooch, in the shape of a "lovers' knot," set with stones, one of which is missing. There was nothing in the pockets, and thus, up to the present, the police have been unable to discover a clue as to identity.


Of course, the inhabitants of the locality have formed many conjectures as to the perpetrator of the crime. Last night Hampstead was in a state of extreme excitement, all kinds of rumours being afloat. It was hinted that the miscreant who startled the country with his horrible crimes in the East-end had transferred his attention to the Northern suburbs, and that the crime would be followed by a series of terrible ferocity. The police, however, do not associate the murder with those of the East-end. They believe that the tragedy is the result of premeditation and design, and was enacted in the seclusion of a house in the neighbourhood. That the body was not conveyed to the spot in a van there is ample evidence, and thus the burden could only have been borne a short distance. The night favoured the bearer, for it was very dark about seven o'clock, and there are no lamps near the stone heap which could have revealed the presence of such a ghastly object.


Up to the present the police have to work upon the slenderest evidence. A cabman has come forward and informed Mr. Smith, station-master at the Swiss Cottage Station, that he was hailed about the time named by a well-dressed man, who told him to drive to Chalk Farm as quickly as he could, and he would give him double fare. This he gave him, having the money ready, and rushed down the steps at the station. It is thought that possibly the ticket-inspector at Chalk Farm may throw some light on the subject. The police believe that the victim must have recently suckled a child, and that possibly a child may eventually be discovered to have some connection with the mystery. In support of this it is stated that a blood-stained bassinette perambulator was found early this morning in a road in St. John's-wood. The neighbourhood is now in the hands of several hundred plain-clothes officers, who are diligently prosecuting their inquiries in every direction.


As a result of a second and complete external examination of the body, Dr. Cooper states that the injuries were of a frightful character. The throat had been so completely cut that the spinal column as well as the windpipe had been severed, and the head nearly separated from the body. The skull had sustained a compound comminuted fracture, evidently with a heavy pointed weapon, as it was broken through. There were some minor wounds on the head, as well as bruises on the hands and other parts of the body; but the wounds in the skull or throat were either of them deadly.


Another correspondent writes concerning the discovery of a blood-stained perambulator: -
"About an hour after the tragedy was discovered the policeman on the beat which includes Hamilton-avenue, a thoroughfare fully a mile from Crossfield-road, discovered on the pavement an empty bassinette perambulator, in which was a woollen rug, and some linen stained with blood. The authorities are, therefore, of opinion that the murder has been committed in some other part of London, and that the body was conveyed in the perambulator, under cover of night, to the spot where it was found. Some of those who saw the body thought they recognised a woman who had been in the habit of walking the neighbourhood for immoral purposes. The authorities have not adopted this view, as the constables on duty in that part of Hampstead were paraded to view the body, and failed to recognise it. So far, then, the motive of the tragedy and the identity of the principal actors in it are alike unknown.


Mr. Somerled Macdonald, of Belsize-park, who made the shocking discovery last evening, gave the following account to an Echo reporter today: - I am nineteen years of age, and am engaged at a company's office in the City. Last night I returned from the City to Swiss-cottage Station, arriving there, I should think, at seven o'clock. I was walking home - intending afterwards to go to Haverstock-hill, so I made haste - when I saw something lying in Crossfield-road, Eton-avenue. At first I did not take any notice, thinking it was a drunken woman, but on returning, to go to Haverstock-hill, I saw the same object there. The top part of the body was covered over by a piece of a jacket. It was very dark, and the moon was not out, so I could not make out what it was. I went to look for a policeman, but not seeing one, I proceeded to Swiss-cottage Station, where I told a policeman, and a constable returned with me, and asked me to go for Dr. Poulet Wells, which I did, and he came back with me. Dr. Wells then said that he thought she had only been dead a few minutes. Now I think of it, it was seven o'clock when I arrived from the City at Swiss-cottage. When the body was examined I heard one of the doctors say that the skull was fractured and that the throat was cut. Replying to a question as to the locality, Mr. Macdonald said that Eton-avenue was a very secluded part. He added that it was a very singular thing that he rarely passed the spot on his way home, as he was accustomed to choose another route. "I had not," continued Mr. Macdonald, "passed where I saw the body for at least three months."


Mr. Poulett Wells, M.B., made the following full statement this morning: I was called last night, and arrived at the scene of the murder, I should think, shortly before eight o'clock. I should imagination, from the condition of the body, that death had taken place about an hour before. There was a deep gash in the throat; it had gone right through the neck, dividing the spinal column, and the head merely hung by the soft tissues at the back. The wound must have been inflicted with a sharp knife, and with extreme force. The injury at the back of the head must also have been inflicted with immense force, for it penetrated the skull to a considerable area at the back, and comminuted the bone completely. There was also a scalp wound, but not very extensive, on the front part of the head. There was a bruise on the right side of the lower jaw, and one on the knuckle of the right hand. Whether the blow on the head or the wound in the neck was given first, I cannot tell. Either of them was quite sufficient to cause death, and that is the strange thing about it. If the injury in the throat was first inflicted it was quite unnecessary - for the purpose of causing death, I mean - to have given the extensive wound in the head. The cleanness of the cut in the neck gave one the idea that it was done - if I may use the term - in a "very leisurely way," that it was a secondary act. Of course, I cannot form any definite conclusion yet - I have not made the post-mortem examination - but it is probable that the blow on the head was given first, and then the throat cut with a strong knife with a short blade. It could not have been done with a razor, as there would not be sufficient "purchase." The murderer was "very fortunate to have got through the vertebrae as he did," for the ligaments are very difficult to separate. The blow on the head might have been inflicted with a hammer, but I should hardly think so; it was done, I should say, by an instrument more pointed - the point of a pickaxe, for instance. It was suggested when we were examining the body that it had been done by a hatchet, as the other wound on the scalp showed no indentation of a point. I do not think it was a hatchet; it was not an instrument of that character, for the bone, as I say, was comminuted and broken into bits.
Up to shortly before noon the police, who are making a most thorough investigation, had not been able to make any arrest, mainly from the fact that the body had not then been identified, and that there is at present almost no clue to the perpetrator. As soon as the crime was discovered the officers, under Inspector Swanson and Inspector Bannister, had the various railway lavatories in the district inspected, with a view to ascertain if the murderer had paid any of those places a visit to remove any blood from his clothes.


An Echo reporter wrote at one o'clock: - It is now certain that the murder was not committed at the spot where the unfortunate woman was found, but that the body was conveyed thither in a perambulator. Indeed, the bassinette to which illusion has been made was saturated with blood, and pieces of hair were found to be attached to it. Hamilton-terrace, where it was found, was about a mile and a-half distant. It is now stated that the bassinette was found there about half-an-hour after the time when the body of the woman was discovered. It contained a dark-brown rug, which, too, was saturated with blood; and there were evidences that it had, previously to the woman's body being placed in it, been occupied by a child. The police have in their possession certain information which proves conclusively that this is the vehicle which the miscreant utilised in carrying his victim to the spot. They are, therefore, naturally anxious to discover anyone who may have seen a person, most probably a man, wheeling a heavily-laden bassinette in the vicinity of Eton-avenue about the time the body was found. It is a wicker perambulator with a hood. It is painted blue, picked out with yellow, and the handles are painted in black enamel.


The theory that the crime was committed under similar circumstances to those which characterised the Whitechapel murders is now altogether discredited. Though the woman was fully dressed, no hat or bonnet has been found. There was not a key or a coin in her pockets, and nothing to lead to her identity. It seems incredible that the body could have been conveyed in a perambulator from any great distance without detection, and thus it can only be presumed that the crime was committed somewhere in the neighbourhood. There is, too, reason to believe that the woman was murdered in a house, and was then conveyed in the perambulator to Crossfield-road. Having deposited his ghastly burden on the heap of stones, the murderer, it may further be presumed, wheeled the vehicle away at a brisk pace then to Hamilton-terrace. The head, as has already been stated, was wrapped in a cardigan jacket. It was a man's garment the sleeves of which had been cut out. It, together with other articles in the possession of the police, may possibly be of great use in the investigations they are now rigorously engaged in under the direction of Detective-inspector Bannister. There was one circumstance which aided the man in his plan. The heap of debris on which the body was found - which it may be stated, is still unidentified - is about 3ft. from a brick wall which encloses the gardens at the back of the houses in a street leading into Crossfield-road. The windows of the first of these buildings are not twenty yards distant, and, it is true, overlook the spot, which, also, is in daylight in full view of the windows of a large villa residence on the other side of the road, at the corner. With, however, the exception of the buildings in course of construction, there are no other houses near, and as there are no gas lamps in the street, it is very dark at night.


Inspector Bannister states that the assertion that a man drove in a cab from Hampstead to Chalk-farm under the circumstances recorded in this morning's papers is unfounded.


The police attach great importance to the fact that a man, aged about 40, height 6ft., with a dark moustache, and wearing a light suit and a peak cap, has been noticed several nights loitering in the neighbourhood of Crossfields-road, where the body was discovered.

Source: The Echo, Saturday October 25, 1890, Page 3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Re: The Murder of Phoebe Hogg

Post by Karen on Fri 6 May 2011 - 1:04



On Friday evening between seven and eight the dead body of a woman about thirty years old was found lying in Crossfield-road, Eaton-avenue, South Hampstead, with her head nearly severed from her body and the skull smashed in, evidently with a heavy, sharp, penetrating instrument. Police officers were soon on the spot, and the body was removed on an ambulance and carefully examined by doctors, and there is no doubt that a brutal murder has been committed. The corpse was discovered under a wall near the junction of Adamson-road and Eaton-avenue. The deceased was well dressed, and appeared to be a young woman not more than 32 years old. Her jacket was of imitation astrachan, and her dress of black cashmere. She wore two petticoats, one with red and yellow stripes, the other of white flannel. Her white cotton chemise bore the letters "P.H.," neatly embroidered in red. Her woollen stockings were blue in colour, and her woven vest was of a make with which those who have seen it are unfamiliar. The style of the garment suggests that she was nursing a child. The woman had evidently been dead but a very short time, and the wounds which had caused her death were probably those at the back of the head. In all probability the woman's throat was cut after she had been killed by the terrible blows from behind. The knife used in cutting the throat must have been not only large but sharp. Information of the murder was promptly sent to Scotland-yard, and Inspector Swanson and several detectives who had been engaged from time to time in the Whitechapel inquiries started for Hampstead and took charge of the case. All the ground in the vicinity was thoroughly searched, but no weapon or anything else likely to serve as a clue was found. The first doctor who saw the body noticed blood flowing from the side, which fact led at first to the belief that the woman had been stabbed and perhaps mutilated, but a cursory examination did not result in anything to support this theory. People who saw the body and the scene of the murder are strongly of opinion that the unfortunate victim was seized from behind and was at once rendered speechless by one large, clean cut of a knife, as in the case of the women murdered in Whitechapel.
The body was found lying on a heap of stones, and the discovery was made by a young gentleman named Mr. S. Macdonald while passing on his way home. As quickly as possible the body was removed to the mortuary at New-end, Hampstead, and the police at once instituted a rigid search, which was kept up all through the night. Through the several half-built houses with which the neighbourhood abounds officers searched during the whole of the night by the aid of lanterns, but nowhere could anything be found to indicate the precise locality of the murder. That the crime was not committed at the place where the body was found the police are confident. How the miscreat succeeded in carrying the hapless victim to the spot without attracting attention and without leaving traces of blood from whence he came was a mystery. To reach the heap of stones the bearer of the ghastly burden was compelled to cross several scaffolding planks lying on the side walk; yet upon these there are no blood stains. That the body was not conveyed to the spot in a van there was ample evidence. The whole neighbourhood was in a state of extreme excitement, all kinds of rumours being afloat. It was hinted that the miscreant who startled the country with his horrible crimes in the East-end of London had transferred his attention to the Northern suburbs, but the police did not credit this theory. They believed that the tragedy was the result of premeditation and design, and was enacted in the seclusion of a house in the neighbourhood. Dr. Poulett Wells and Dr. Cooper, who examined the body, found that the gash in the throat was very deep, penetrating the neck, and dividing the spinal column, so that the head hung merely by the soft tissues at the back. Dr. Wells is of opinion that the wound was inflicted by a sharp knife and that extreme force was used. Great violence must also, he says, have been used in causing the wound at the back of the head, as the bone had been comminuted completely. A slight scalp wound was to be seen on the front of the head, and there were two bruises, one on the right side of the lower jaw and another on the knuckle of the right hand. He cannot say which of the two main wounds was inflicted first. Eight of them would have been sufficient to cause death. The instrument with which the throat was cut must have been very sharp, though he does not believe it was a razor.
Shortly after the news of the occurrence had become known intelligence was also received at the Hampstead police-station of a remarkable discovery that was likely to have some connection with the murder. In Hamilton-terrace, St. John's-wood, which is fully a mile from Crossfield-road, a constable had that morning found a deserted bassinette perambulator, the broken handle of which was lying inside, together with a piece of butter-scotch and a brown goatskin rug saturated with blood. Some human hair, clotted with blood, was also found in the little vehicle, and when subsequently this was compaired with the hair of the murdered woman, it was found that the two exactly matched. An additional circumstance afterwards placed it beyond all doubt that there was a close connection between the perambulator and the crime. A small brass nut was missing from one of the wheels of the perambulator. Later in the day it was found in Crossfield-road, on the spot where the hideous discovery had been made. This now led the authorities to believe that the murder had been committed in some other part of London, and that the body was conveyed in the perambulator, under cover of night, to the spot where it was found, the person in charge of it having wheeled the perambulator on to St. John's-wood. The police had now many difficult problems to solve. How was it possible for a man to have wheeled an empty perambulator so far without attracting observation? A woman might have done so, of course; but, on the other hand, was it reasonable to suppose that a woman's strength would have been equal to the infliction of the terrible wounds found on the deceased? Again, what possible object could the murderer have had in laboriously wheeling the perambulator for such a distance, when it might have been left upon the spot or close at hand, and the critical quarter of an hour or twenty minutes that must have been spent on the journey utilised in flight?
The police officers at first set themselves to elucidate the mystery surrounding the deceased's identity. In the course of Saturday afternoon their labours in this direction were crowned with success, and the body was proved to be that of Phoebe Hogg, a married woman living with her husband, Frank Hogg, at 141, Prince of Wales-road, Kentish Town. Her husband, a furniture porter, put the police in possession of some important facts. He said that while he was at his work, she left home on Friday with her child in a perambulator, to pay a visit to an intimate friend of theirs, Mrs. Piercey, living at 2, Priory-street, Great College-street, Kentish Town. On being shown the perambulator found by the police in St. John's-wood, he at once recognised it as the one that had been in his wife's possession. From all appearances it has since then experienced very rough usage. The white porcelain handle was smashed, the springs appeared as if they had had to bear a heavy load, there were mud marks on one side as if it had been tilted over to the ground. The question naturally arose - Why was it that Mr. Hogg, on arriving home on Friday evening, and finding that his wife had not returned, did not take some steps to ascertain her whereabouts? The matter, however, is susceptible of a very simple explanation. Mr. Hogg at once concluded that his wife had been suddenly summoned to Rickmansworth, where her father is lying ill, and where, he presumed, she would stay the night. In order to satisfy himself on the subject he took an early train to Rickmansworth on Saturday morning and was astounded to learn that nothing had been seen or heard there of his wife. He did not see a newspaper, he explains, while on the journey, and he did not learn what had occurred until he returned to Prince of Wales'-road, where he met a messenger who had come to summon him to Hampstead police-station. His wife was, he said, a perfectly respectable woman, and he added that they lived together on the best of terms. At the time of leaving home the deceased was, it appeared, wearing a rather thick 18-carat-gold wedding ring, and in her pocket was an imitation Russian leather purse containing an address card and about 2s. The clasp of the purse was broken, and it was fastened by an indiarubber band. Neither the ring nor the purse, it may be mentioned, was found upon the body. The deceased's hat was likewise missing. Naturally, the greatest possible anxiety existed as to what had become of the child, concerning whom the police issued the following description: - "Her name is Phoebe Hogg, and she is eighteen months old. Fair; blue eyes; very little hair; dressed in brown velvet pelisse and cape; drab plush bonnet, with a blue bow in front and lined with drab and blue; probably wearing a blue frock. Small brown birth-mark on one shin." The police lost no time in sending for Mrs. Piercey, and upon her arrival she was shown the body of the deceased and asked it she recognised it. She answered by saying that she recognised the clothes, but not the face. She denied having seen the deceased that day. There was something either in her manner or in what she said that roused suspicion, and, after she had returned home, two detectives were sent to her house to make some investigations. Entering the kitchen on the ground-floor, at the back of the building, they at once saw traces of a terrible struggle. There were stains and splashes of blood about the room, a large blood-stained carving knife lay on the table, a poker covered with blood and human hair lay on the floor, and some windows were broken. The detectives sent a telegram to Inspector Banister, who was not long in arriving on the scene. He at once interrogated Mrs. Piercey as to the presence of blood about the room, and finding that she returned unsatisfactory anwers, he took her into custody. Her bearing was very composed. She denied any knowledge of the crime.
Upon learning that Mrs. Hogg had left home with a child the police made a close search with a view to discover the little creature. The empty and unfinished houses - of which there are many in the neighbourhood of Crossfield-road and of St. John's-wood - were carefully expected by them. But the child was not destined to be found by the police. Beside the Finchley-road, about ten minutes' walk from the Swiss Cottage Station, and on the way to Hendon, there are some plots of land, on one of which is a gipsy encampment; and on Sunday morning at half-past six, while one of the gipsies named Smith was walking round the field looking for his horses, he came across the dead body of a female infant lying upon the ground. It was conveyed to Hampstead police-station, and soon identified as that of the deceased woman's child. The doctors expressed themselves satisfied that death was due to strangulation.

Miss Hogg, the sister-in-law of the deceased woman, in an interview stated that Mr. Hogg waited up until twelve o'clock on Friday night, and then went to bed. Next morning he went to Rickmansworth, fully expecting to find his wife there. She (Miss Hogg) went off to Mrs. Piercey to ask her (these are her own words) "to help me to find my sister-in-law." Asked why she went to Mrs. Piercey, Miss Hogg said that Mrs. Piercey was always willing to do anything for her, and that she often availed herself of her assistance when she wanted anything done. When she arrived there Mrs. Piercey had just risen, and she asked Miss Hogg into her bedroom. She did not notice anything strange in Mrs. Piercey's manner, nor did she notice any signs of a struggle. She was not asked into the kitchen. They both went out together, and, hearing that a murder had been committed, they bought a paper to read the details. Miss Hogg then suggested that she must go and see the body, as it might be her sister; but Mrs. Piercey endeavoured to dissuade her from doing so, saying, "It can't be her. She can't be dead." However, she determined to go, and Mrs. Piercey reluctantly accompanied her. They went to the Hampstead Police-station, and afterwards to the mortuary, where she at once identified the body as that of her sister-in-law. She was about to place her hand on the body when Mrs. Piercey exclaimed, "Oh, don't touch her." They had known Mrs. Piercey for about four years. Mrs. Piercey had nursed Mrs. Hogg through a long illness last Christmas.
Miss Hogg has added in another interview: On Saturday morning whilst we were searching for my sister I went to Mrs. Piercey's house, and she, after twice denying that my sister had been there on Friday, admitted it, but said she only stopped a few moments and went away. I don't know whether she had been divorced from her husband or not. Sometimes she had said she was, and at other times the contrary, so that it is difficult which to believe. After trying to dissuade me from going to view the body, she did not want me to go to see the perambulator, but I did, and recognised it at once. My poor brother is terribly affected by what has happened, and hardly knows what to do. Whatever motive Mrs. Piercey could have, unless it were jealousy, I can't think.

Mrs. Rodgers, residing at 7, Priory-place, who knows the accused woman, Mrs. Piercy, very well indeed, having done mangling for her, has made a statement to the effect that she met Mrs. Piercy about 6:10 on Friday night. I was coming round the corner, the other side of the railway arch, said Mrs. Rodgers, when I saw Mrs. Piercy wheeling a perambulator. It was a long one, and seemed to be very full. It was very high at the front, but lower towards the handles. The contents were covered over, as well as I could see in the dusk, with some black stuff. I thought she was probably wheeling some work to the station to send to the City. People about here are in the habit of using perambulators for such as this. I have never seen Mrs. Piercy with a perambulator before, but at the time I did not think it strange. She was in the middle of the road, and I was on the path. The perambulator seemed to be very heavy, and she had some difficulty in pushing it up the hill. She did not see me, as her head was bent over the handle of the perambulator.
It appears that Mrs. Hogg had gone straight to Mrs. Piercy's house after leaving home on Friday afternoon, for it is stated by a neighbour that about four o'clock she heard a great noise as of the smashing of glass. What happened there it is impossible to describe. The front room is a parlour nicely furnished, opening with folding doors upon a bedroom, and at the back - at the end of the passage - is a small kitchen, having a window at the side. It is this room, about 10ft. by 7ft., that was apparently the scene of the murder. On the floor - on the rug - on the ceiling were splashes of blood. The curtains had great clots, and a black apron hanging on the door had evidently been washed to take out bloodstains which were imperfectly removed. Some of the "chips" used to make fires are also stained. Mrs. Hogg was a much bigger, stronger, more powerful woman than Mrs. Piercy, and there could be no doubt that the first blow was treacherously struck from behind. The poker is not of the usual pattern, but has a large disc of metal near the end. The edge of this bears traces of human hair and blood, and it is an instrument eminently suitable for inflicting the wounds found upon the head. The struggle, however, must have been serious. The deceased bears marks of several bruises upon her arms, while Mrs. Piercy is considerably wounded by scratches and contusions on the hands and arms. In conversation with Miss Hogg on Saturday she called attention to these, saying she had got them in killing some mice or rats which had annoyed her in her room. When the deceased had become insensible it was easy to cut her throat, and the spot where this was probably done is readily identified by the pool of blood which marks one portion of the carpet. Meanwhile the bassinette perambulator was in the lobby, but it is not known where the baby was all the time. The house was empty during the afternoon, but the residents on the top floor, husband and wife, coming home separately shortly before six o'clock both knocked against the bassinette, Mrs. Piercy calling out to them to take care of it. What a terrible journey that must have been - pushing the two dead bodies past the very house in which they had lived, up Haverstock-hill into Eaton-avenue to Crossfield-road! How after the body of the woman had been thrown out was that journey continued for yet two miles before the child's body was deposited in West-end-lane, and then the bassinette brought back to be abandoned in Hamilton-terrace.


The prisoner, whose name is Mary Eleanor Piercy, aged 24, was brought up at Marylebone Police-court on Monday, charged with the double murder. She wore some workhouse clothes that had been supplied to her, her own being taken from her. She was defended by Mr. Freke Palmer, solicitor. The first witness was Frank Samuel Hogg, the husband of the deceased woman, who cried bitterly while giving his evidence. He said his wife was 31 years of age, and the child was 18 months old. On Friday night he went to the prisoner's house to inquire if she had seen his wife but the prisoner was not in. To his knowledge there had not been any quarrel between his wife and the prisoner.
Inspector Banister requested that the witness might be asked if he had a latchkey of the prisoner's house.
The magistrate: Have you a latchkey of the prisoner's house? - Yes.
And have you been in the habit of visiting her? - Yes.
Did your wife know that you had visited her, and did she form any objection? - I don't think she knew I visited her.
Evidence was next given by Inspector Wright of the discovery of the bodies.
Inspector Banister spoke to the prisoner going to the mortuary along with Miss Hogg to view the body and gave an account of the prisoner's conduct while there. Prisoner was always trying to drag Miss Hogg away, saying the body was not that of Mrs. Hogg. Something transpiring which induced him to search the prisoner's lodgings, she volunteered to go with the officers. A search was made, and in a table drawer he found a carving-knife with blood upon the handle. In the fender was a long heavy poker with a ring handle, which was examined by the doctors. Two panes of glass in the window had been smashed, and all the walls and the ceiling were bespattered with blood. A black skirt with apparently bloodstains on it, was in the kitchen, also an apron, which appeared to have recently been washed, had bloodstains on it. There were two doors to the room and both of these as well as the window sash and a rug were much stained with blood. There was a strong smell of paraffin on the rug, as though an attempt had been made to get rid of it. He took the knives and poker into the parlour where the prisoner was sitting. She whistled, and assumed an air of perfect indifference. Witness took down the statements of several people in the house, and on returning to the parlour found the prisoner still whistling. Witness said to her, "Mrs. Piercy, I am going to arrest you for the murder of Mrs. Hogg last night, also on suspicion of murdering the female child of Mrs. Hogg." She jumped up from her chair, and said, "You can arrest me if you like; I am quite willing to go with you. I think you have made a great mistake." Witness told her to take off her rings, and she did so. One was a very broad gold one, and the other was of brass. In her bonnet-box he found a card-case belonging to the husband of the deceased. The prisoner's hands were cut, and her clothes were much blood-bespattered. Those clothes were changed, and workhouse clothes supplied her. The deceased had no ring on, but her finger bore the impression of having had on a wide ring. He put on the finger of the deceased the ring he had found on the prisoner, and it seemed to fit.
Cross-examined by Mr. Palmer: The deceased, in his opinion, was a person of less strength and shorter build than the prisoner.
By the magistrate: The prisoner was not married, but was living with a man. Her name was not Piercy.
The magistrate at this point ordered a remand.


An inquest on the bodies of the mother and infant daughter was held by the Hampstead coroner on Tuesday. Much of the evidence was similar to that given at the police-court on the previous day, but Mr. Hogg, husband of the murdered woman, definitely admitted that he had been intimate with Mrs. Piercy, visiting her perhaps three or four times a week. He and his wife had always lived on good terms. On one occasion there was some difference about a letter which she had received without his knowledge, and which she put away hastily on his entering the room. They had words about it, and she left the house for a day, but the matter was amicably arranged. When the difference arose about the letters, he said to her: "You shall not receive letters without my knowledge." She said she would do so, and added that she would have the letters sent to her at the house of a relative of hers, Lizzie Styles, living in Albion-road. He then said that Lizzie Styles should not come to their house, and as his wife objected to his relatives and friends coming if hers were not to, it was agreed that none should come without their mutual invitation. That was why the acquaintance between Mrs. Piercy and his wife was dropped. Evidence having been given of the finding of the body, the cardigan jacket with which the body of the woman was covered was produced, and Mr. Hogg, recalled, said he once had a cardigan jacket, many years ago, but he was sure this was not it. Dr. Augustus Pepper, of University College Hospital, who had made a post-mortem examination on the body, said two or three pieces of the bone of the skull had penetrated the brain sufficient to have caused sudden death. There were many other wounds. The throat had been deeply and cleanly cut, and it was apparent that the instrument with which the wound had been inflicted had passed between the second and third vertebrae. He had made experiments with the knives found in the prisoner's house, and did not believe the deed was committed with any of them; they were not sharp enough. It was then stated by Inspector Banister that he had ascertained that the correct name of the prisoner was Wheeler, and she was unmarried, and a man named John Charles Piercy, a carpenter, said he formerly lived with the woman, but she was not his wife. The cardigan jacket belonged to him, he having left it in her possession. This witness identified the two rings as belonging to the prisoner. She told him that a gentleman friend who used to visit her gave her one of the rings. The Coroner here remarked that he should be glad to hear the evidence of any one who might be in court, and who happened to have known Mrs. Piercy, and Charles Crichton, of independent means, living at Gravesend, deposed that he had known the prisoner for about three years, and had seen her at her home. He knew nothing about the Hoggs. Thereafter, Martha Styles, who is a domestic servant at Egham, was examined. Mrs. Hogg was her sister. On Friday she met her in the street, and deceased showed her a note she had received - she believed from Mrs. Piercy, but there was no signature - inviting Mrs. Hogg to come round that afternoon with her "little darling." The deceased appeared to have had suspicions, for among other things she said to the witness, in reference to an invitation from Mrs. Piercy a short time ago to visit South-end for a day to look over an empty house, that no one would have thought of searching for her there. She did not know that her sister entertained any jealous feeling. Elizabeth Styles, a housemaid, and niece of Mrs. Hogg, said she wrote to the deceased until the latter's husband forbade her. Her aunt was not very happy. When she was ill in February last Mrs. Piercy attended her. From what witness saw she communicated with her other aunt.
What was your suspicion? - She was not treated properly. Since my aunt's recovery she has made observations about Mrs. Piercy, and said she was fond of her husband. That seemed to distress her.
Elizabeth Rogers next gave evidence to the effect that on Friday evening she met Mrs. Piercy in the street, and that Mrs. Piercy was wheeling a heavily-laden perambulator at the time. After a brief deliberation the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Piercy (or Wheeler) in both cases.

Source: The Courier and London & Middlesex Counties Gazette, October 31, 1890, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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