Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

wrist, and that the latter was such by grasping a knife. There were as would be made by a finger-mark. several cuts on the right band, but I also saw that the throat was cut, they were of a slight character. and that there was a pool of blood The backs of both hands were very on both sides of the throat, but bloody. On the inside of the right there was no blood below the collar thigh there was the impress of the bone. The wound was about two palm of a bloody hand, and pointinches and a quarter in depth, and ing downwards. It was the mark it was deepest near the shoulder of a full-sized hand, larger than on the left side. It could not have my own. The deceased was a thin, been inflicted by the deceased with spare woman. She was six or seven her right hand. The prisoner came months gone in the family-way." into the room while I was there, Iu cross-examination the witness and the first thing he said was, expressed a positive opinion in • What is this?' and he imme- which he was confirmed by another diately stooped down and took the medical witness) that when he saw knife from the deceased's hand. the body at 8 o'clock it had been The knife came out of the hand dead probably more than four quite easily. If the deceased had hours, but not less than three. died with the knife in her hand, Elizabeth Humbler having been the instrument would have been brought from the gaol, was now grasped or clutched tightly. The examined as a witness. She said: prisoner shortly afterwards looked “I am the wife of John Humbler. towards the woman Humbler, and and I am 19 years old. I bare said, . You wretch! you have done known the prisoner since I was this!' She fell upon her knees, 11 years of age, and I used to live and called God to witness that she in his house with the deceased. knew nothing about it. I observed There was an intimacy between at this time that there were a wed me and the prisoner of an imding ring, a brooch, a likeness, proper kind ever since I was 15 some valentines and some other years old. My mother took me letters unopened, and everything away from the prisoner's house, in the room was quite orderly. I and 12 months ago I married saw no marks of blood on the wo. my present husband. I left my man Humbler, but I noticed that husband, and went again to live in her hands were very dirty, and did the prisoner's house. That was not appear to have been washed for about three months before this ocsome time. Some marks of blood currence happened. Mrs. Gardner were pointed out to me upon the was agreeable to my going to live wall of the room, which I am quite there. I acted as servant, and did sure were not on the wall when I all there was to do.. While I was examined it on the morning of the living in the house on this second murder. I examined the hands of occasion, I renewed my intimacy the deceased, and found several with the prisoner. I did not know cuts across the fingers of the left that I was going to leave on the hand. There were two on the Monday the affair happened till middle finger, one of which had the prisoner told me so after the gone completely through the bone. murder, and he had accused me of These wounds appeared to me to it. On the Sunday before the be such as would have been caused murder I want to bed at 7 o'clock

at night, and wished the deceased stairs with only my stockings on, good night. I got up on the fol. and I found that I had trodden on lowing morning at half-past 7, and blood. The deceased had received between those hours I never left a good many letters, such as valenmy bedroom. I went to a room tines, before she died. She could on the ground floor to light a fire, pot read or write.” These valenbut I had only one lucifer match, tines were subsequently shown to and it did not seem to catch, and I have been of a very offensive chawent up to the deceased's bedroom racter, having reference to the conto get some more matches, and saw nection that existed between the her lying on the floor. I had taken prisoner and Humbler. From the up the box of lucifers before I saw mass of evidence given by the pothe body, and the moment I did so lice and the detective officers, it I dropped them on the ground. appeared that some days after the Soon after this Mr. Gardner came murder the prisoner very indushome. I had not seen him before triously directed their attention to on that morning. When I saw marks of blood upon the sides of bim come in, I said, 'Good God! the bed, the walls of the staircase, Sam, come up-stairs !' and when and the shutters of a down-stairs he saw his wife lying dead, he said room, which he said had been to me, You wretch! you have opened by Humbler ou the morndone this; if you don't move from ing of the 15th. These marks here I will give you in charge.' they all swore (and upon this point When he said this I dropped on their testimony was unhesitatingly my knees, and said, 'Good God! supported by that of the medical show mercy down on my inno witnesses) did not exist when they cence.' Mrs. Gardner was in very examined the house on the day of good health when I saw her on the murder. It further appeared Sunday, the 14th September. The that the prisoner had, from the police went into my room, and first, rejected the idea that his wife searched my clothes and every- had committed suicide—"she was thing I had. The prisoner said I too weak-nerved,” he said, " for should not stop in his house. I that;" and had persistently enleft, and never went back again; deavoured to fasten the murder but I asked the prisoner to give upon Humbler. In a deposition me some money to enable me to which, after due warning, he had go to my mother at Gravesend. made before the coroner, and He gave me three shillings." In which was now employed as evicross-examinatiou the witness said: dence against him, he said, that "My usual time of going to bed “on the Sunday evening before was 9 or 10, but on this Sunday his wife died, the girl Humbler night I went to bed two hours was annoying and insulting her, earlier than usual on account of and he determined that she should the prisoner being angry and ill- leaves the following day. He tempered with me. I did not go and h WEL slept together on to bed immediately, but sat up for the

s

h iht, and very an hour, thinking of the sufferings fitendit that Mr. Gardner had caused me. what I got up at my usual time on the leatin Monday morning, and went doen

[graphic]

went to work on the Monday morn- and that the act was committed ing, and said that “he returned in a fit of anger." The prisoner, home about 8 o'clock, and then on being asked in the usual form found that his wife was dead. The whether he had anything to say reason why he charged Humbler why judgment of death should not with the murder was that he be passed upon him, addressed the thought it probable that she had Court in a firm clear voice, and insulted his wife and quarrelled said: “I can safely declare, upon with her, after he left, and that my word and honour, that I am as this had led to the act." Such innocent of my wife's death as an were the main facts adduced for unborn babe, or of knowing any. the prosecution in this remarkable thing about it. Any man who case.

could destroy the life of his wife The defence urged for the pri- with his own flesh and blood in soner was based upon these grounds her body, hanging is too good for - 1st. That nothing had been him. I swear, before God, that I proved to exclude the conclusion am innocent of this crime-it is that the deceased had died by her not in my instinct to do such a own hand, as was probable from thing; I could not do it for the the unhappy life she had been world. There is a greater Judge leading, and from the letters and than your lordship, who knows all. tokens of remembrance which were I fear Him more than any earthly found near her: 2nd, That no judge, and I thank God I have not adequate motive had beeu proved, got this crime to answer for. or even suggested, that could in- The learned Judge, in passing duce the prisoner to murder his sentence of death, said, " It would wife; and 3rd, That all the pro- be difficult for anyone to come to babilities of the case, as developed the opinion that, upon the evidence, in the trial, would lead to the con- the jury had not arrived at a right clusion, that if a murder had been conclusion. He would take care committed at all, it must have been that their recommendation to by the hand of Humbler. Some mercy should be forwarded to the witnesses were called to speak of proper quarter; but, taking into the prisoner's whereabout and oc- consideration the nature of the cupation on the morning of the crime, he did not feel himself jus 15th September, but their evi- tified in holding out any expectadence did not in the slightest de- tion that it would have effect. gree affect any of the leading in- Hereupon the prisoner again incidents of the case. The Judge terposed, and said, "My lord, I then summed up, and the Jury should say that any man who was retired to consider their verdict guilty of such a crime as this After deliberating an hour and a ought to have no mercy." He was half, they returned into Curt tlien removed from the bar, sti and gave a verdict of Guilty, but protesting bis innocence. accompanied by a strong recom- l'pon a review of the very remendation to mercy, on the ground markable nature of this case, and that "they believed that, after the of the peculiar circumstances atprisoner and his wife went to bed tendant upon the trial and conon the Sunday. they bad had a demnation of the prisoner, a strong quarrel about the girl Humbler, feeling was engendered in the pab. lic mind that the proofs of his guilt magistrate ; that the Grand Jury were not sufficiently clear to jus. had also returned a true bill against tify his being subjected to the ex- both ; and that, but for the intertreme penalty of the law. The ference of the Lord Chief Barou, press took the matter up warmly, when the case came before him to and called with an unanimous voice be finally disposed of, they would for a remission or commutation of both have been put upon their the sentence. It was urged upon trial and the jury would have been the consideration of the Home called upon to say by their verdict Office that the evidence upon which which of the two, or whether both, the conviction had been made was were guilty. Ultimately the rewholly circumstantial, and that it presentations that were incessantly did not at all exclude the possi. made upon the subject so far prebility of the crime having been comvailed with the Home Secretary mitted by Humbler. In support as to induce him to recommend of this latter view it was observed the Crown to commute the senthat when the matter was investi. tence of death to penal servitude gated by the coroner's jury a ver- for life; and the prisoner was redict of “ Wilful Murder” was re- moved from Newgate to the prison turned against both prisoners; that at Milbank to undergo that mitithey were both committed by the gated penalty.

THE GLASGOW MURDER. One of those instances of crime, ment in the press, and, at a later where the proofs of guilt are such period, the topic of a grave discusas to carry an unhesitating convic- sion in Parliament, were these :tion to the minds of many men, On the afternoon of Monday, but yet to leave the minds of others the 7th of July, it was discovered in a state of the most painful un that Jessie McPherson, aged 38, certainty and doubt, occurred this servant to Mr. John Fleming, year at Glasgow, and engaged, for accountant, residing at 17, Sandymany months, the anxious atten- ford-place, Glasgow, had been bartion of the public in almost every barously murdered. The family part of the kingdom. The circum- were living at Dunoon at the time, stances of the case, originally and the male portion of the housepeculiar in themselves, became the hold, with one exception, had gone more remarkable as the legal in- down on the previous Friday (July vestigation of the crime proceeded, 4), to join the other part of the and ultimately reached to a climax family on the coast. The person of complexity and doubt, when a excepted was Mr. James Fleming, judgment that appeared to be final the father of John Fleming, an was pronounced against a prisoner, old gentleman who had attained to after a trial with the conduct and the age of 87, win with the deresult of which the public were by ceased, alone ined in the no means satisfied. The main house on this n

Friday features of this singular case, 4th of July. A being the subject of warm com. n's statement

[graphic]

at his usual hour on that night, deed was consummated, the body leaving Jessie McPherson at work had apparently been dragged in the scullery. At 4 o'clock on through the lobby to the bedthe following morning he heard room, there placed on the bed, what he called "a squeal," two or undressed, and afterwards left on three times repeated, in the sunk the floor in the position in which it flat of the house, but thinking was found. The kitchen, in which there was nothing wrong, he paid the murder was perpetrated, had no attention, and went to sleep been partially washed. Immediagain. Jessie McPherson was ately that the fact of the murder was never afterwards seen alive. The made known, a rigid inquiry was in. old man missed ber when he got stituted for the discovery of the per up in the morning-missed her all petrator, and, as was not unnatural, day--missed her throughout the suspicion, in the first instance, fell whole of Sunday, and again on upon the old man Fleming, who the morning of Monday; but he was known to have been alone took no step to find out where she with deceased on the Friday night, was, and did not even go to her and whose conduct, when he subroom to see if she were there. He sequently missed her (particularly attended to his own personal wants, after the “ squeals" he had heard and waited patiently to see when in the night), appeared to be so the lost servant would come back. extraordinary. He was, accordOn Monday afternoon Mr. John ingly, apprehended and brought Fleming returned home, and on before the sheriff, who, after a being told that Jessie had not been long preliminary examination, reseen since Friday night, he imme- manded him to prison for further diately instituted a search for her. inquiry. Meantime, other facts Going down stairs to the sunk flat, transpired, which turned the cur. Jessie's bedroom was found to be rent of suspicion into a different locked, and the key missing. The channel. There had been some key of the pantry, however, se- silver plate taken from the house cured ingress, and on entering the on the night of the murder, which room the body of the murdered was found on the following Wedwoman was found lying on the nesday in a pawn office, in East floor, face downwards, and in a Clyde Street, where it had been state near to absolute nudity, with pledged by a Mrs. Jessie McLachthree fearful wounds in the head, fan, the wife of a respectable sea. which had seemingly been inflicted faring man, living in the Broomiewith a heavy and sharp instrument. law. Mrs. McLachlan was, of The clothes of the murdered course, instantly arrested ; and. woman were strewn about the as a proof of her having pawned room covered with blood, and the the plate was direct and incontro bed-sheet, also blood-stained, was vertible, she did not deny it, but found wrapped up and placed be. asserted that she had received it hind the door. Leading from this from old Fletning, on the Friday room to the kitchen, streaks of night before the murder was comblood were also descried, and, on mitted, with instructions from him close examination, the conciusion to pawn it on the following tnorning. was come to that here the murder which she had accordingly done. had been committed. After the The old man, ou being confronted

« ForrigeFortsett »