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Poison Mystery in the Borough

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Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Karen on Fri 31 Aug 2012 - 22:03

POISON MYSTERY IN THE BOROUGH.
BARMAID'S DEATH.

PUBLICAN ARRESTED.
SENSATIONAL STORY.

Just a couple of hours before the Royal procession passed along the Borough two detectives entered a licensed house in the main road, and conducted a publican to the police-station in connection with a sensational charge of poisoning. The man, George Chapman, of the Crown public-house, 213, Borough High-street, a few yards to the north of St. George's Church, was charged with the capital offence the same night, his alleged victim being Maude Marsh, a barmaid who had for some time passed as his wife. It is said that Miss Marsh advertised about 14 months ago for a situation as barmaid, and the prisoner replied from the Monument in Union-street. After she had been in his service a little time it is alleged that he asked how she would like to be Mrs. Chapman. Her father understood that she was married. At any rate she wore a wedding ring. In the early morning of Oct. 25, or just one year previous to Chapman's arrest on the present charge, the Monument was discovered to be on fire, and considerable damage was done to the lower part of the house. Chapman never returned to the premises, and they have remained closed ever since.
Early this year, Chapman took over the Crown, and Miss Marsh continued in his service, assisting in the bar. After a temporary stay in a hospital she returned to the house, and a month ago she was apparently in her usual health. The illness which ended fatally on Wednesday Oct. 22, commenced a fortnight previously, and the deceased woman was attended by Dr. Morris Stoker, of New Kent-road, for diarrhoea and sickness. His suspicions were aroused by the symptoms being the same as in the case of the prisoner's wife, in which, after three consultations, he certified that death was due to diarrhoea, vomiting, and exhaustion. He requested the prisoner to engage a nurse, and Jessie Toon, of Etham-street, Borough, was called in. A servant in the public-house said she had heard that the diarrhoea from which Marsh was said to be suffering was the result of eating some rabbit about three weeks ago. She had some of it, and had found it nice, and it did not affect her. Marsh could not take any food in the ordinary way four days after the doctor was called in. She died on Oct. 22, and Dr. Stoker insisted on a post-mortem examination. He was assisted by Dr. P.G. Cotter, of 57, Caledonian-road, Islington, and no satisfactory cause of death could be found. A portion of the stomach was sent to the Borough analyst, who certified that he had discovered an "appreciable quantity of arsenic."
After Chapman's arrest the Crown public-house was searched, and the police found several books relating to medicines and drugs, and some white powders, 143 pounds 10s. in gold, 15 pounds in silver, 16 five-pound notes, and three ten-pound notes. The police also discovered undertakers' bills relating to the burial of the prisoner's second wife, who died on Feb. 13, 1901, and Mary Isabella Chapman, aged 41, his first wife, who died in 1897. The first wife was buried at Manor-park and the second at Lymm, in Cheshire, and application has been made to the Home Office for permission to exhume the bodies.

THE ACCUSED IN COURT.

At Southwark police-court on Monday George Chapman, 36, licensed victualler, of the Crown public-house, Borough High-street, was charged, before Mr. Paul Taylor, with feloniously killing and slaying Maude Marsh, aged 20, who had been living with him, by administering arsenic to her on Oct. 22. - Mr. Sydney appeared for the defence.
Detective-inspector Godley, M division, said that from information which came to him he and Detective-sergeant Kemp went to the Crown public-house on Saturday, Oct. 25, and saw the prisoner in the bar.
Mr. Coates (clerk): Is he the holder of the licence? - Witness replied in the affirmative, and continuing said he asked prisoner if he was Mr. Chapman. The prisoner replied, "Yes," and he remarked, "I am an inspector of police and wish to speak to you quietly." They went to the end of the billiard-room, and the witness said, "Maude Marsh, who has been living with you as your wife, has been poisoned by arsenic, and from the surrounding circumstances I shall take you to the police-station while I make inquiries about the case." He observed, "I know nothing about it. I don't know how she got the poison. She has been in Guy's Hospital for the same sort of sickness." He was taken to the station and detained. At 10:15 p.m. the witness said to him, "From inquiries I have made it is now my duty to charge you with the wilful murder of Maude Marsh." He replied, "I am innocent. Can you let me have bail?"
Mr. Sydney said he did not propose to ask any questions.
Mr. Paul Taylor: When did the woman die?
The Witness: On the 22nd.
In hospital? - No, at his residence. I may add that from inquiries I found that he was the only person who used to feed her, and that he would not allow other persons in the kitchen while he made the food. He has had three deaths in five years - two Mrs. Chapmans and Marsh.
Mr. Sydney: That may be a coincidence.
Witness: I found five medical books in the house and some white powders which have not been analysed at present.
Have you any medical evidence? - Yes; I have seen the certificate of analysis, which states that arsenic was found. The doctor who attended Marsh also attended Mrs. Chapman, who died on Feb. 13 last year at the Monument public-house, Union-street. The sickness was so identical that the doctor was suspicious, and he is now of opinion that the woman who died at the Monument public-house was poisoned.
This is a case which may require three or four remands? - It may require a dozen if we have to exhume these bodies.
Mr. Paul Taylor then remanded the prisoner for eight days.
Mr. Sydney asked for bail. He said there was really no evidence against the prisoner, except what had been stated by the inspector. He was a licence holder, and there had been an absolute denial of the charge on his part from the beginning.
Inspector Godley: I object to bail. There is nothing to stop this man from quitting the country. He came from America in 1893, and there is nothing whatever to keep him here. He has no banking account, but between 200 pounds and 300 pounds in notes and gold were found at his premises.
Mr. Paul Taylor: I shall not grant bail.
Mr. Sydney: With regard to the money found in the house, of course the police can have no right to that?
Inspector Godley asked permission to retain the notes pending inquiries.
Mr. Paul Taylor (to the prisoner): Have you any objection to the cash being handed over to your solicitor?
The prisoner: It's best to hand it to the solicitor.
Inspector Godley: Very well, I will hand it over.
The prisoner was then removed to the cells.

OPENING OF THE INQUEST.

On Tuesday a considerable number of persons, mostly women, gathered in the vicinity of Colliers-rents, a narrow turning out of Long-lane, in which is situated the mission hall which for the present has to serve as the coroner's court for

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the district. Here the inquest was opened by Dr. Waldo. Chapman was not present.
Chief Inspector Bonner and Detective-inspector Godley watched the case on behalf of the Commissioner of Police.
The coroner, in opening the case to the jury, said he proposed that day to take evidence of identification from one witness and then to adjourn.
Mr. H.I. Sydney, solicitor, observed that he appeared to represent Chapman.
The Coroner: Yes. You will have every opportunity of asking questions.
Robert Marsh, a respectably-dressed man, father of the deceased, was then called. Giving his evidence without emotion, he stated that he lived at 14, Longfellow-road, West Croydon, and was a labourer. Maud Eliza Marsh was his daughter.
The Coroner: What was her age? - Nineteen.
I think she was barmaid, wasn't she, at the Crown? - I understood she was Mrs. Chapman.
She lived at the Crown, 213, Borough High-street? - Yes.
The coroner remarked that the case was one which required an examination of the viscera, and that a post-mortem examination would have to be made. As this would take time he proposed to adjourn the inquiry until Friday Nov. 7, at 11 a.m. He did not suppose they would finish the case that day, but they would get on as far as they could.
The inquiry was accordingly adjourned.

FURTHER MEDICAL EXAMINATION.

The final autopsy on the body of Maude Marsh was commenced on Thursday evening by Dr. Stephenson, of Guy's Hospital, and expert to the Home Office. The remains of the woman were lying in the mortuary in Colliers'-rents, Long-lane, Bermondsey, a stone's-throw from St. George's Church, and thither the elderly expert, accompanied by an assistant, proceeded just before dusk, attended by the mortuary keeper, a couple of detective officers of the M division of police, and a cabman in charge of a four-wheeler. The body was lying in a polished elm coffin, and the features of the woman had altered little in their expression to

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that which they bore in life, with the exception that the complexion was waxen and that the nostrils seemed more tightly drawn together than they were as the woman stood behind the bar at the Crown public-house. Dr. Stephenson took no part in the actual handling of the body, but closely watched the operations of his skilled assistant. The examination was of a remarkably careful and detailed nature, and extended to the removal of a portion of the spinal column. When this task had been accomplished, all the vessels were placed in one large box, which was in its turn corded and sealed, and then, under the still vigilant eye of the famous expert, the box was placed in a four-wheeled cab and was driven to Guy's Hospital.
The examination of the viscera will possibly extend over a period of three days. In the meantime the detective officers in charge of the case, Inspector Godley and Detective-sergeant Kemp, are steadily pursuing inquiries in every direction, and the keenest interest is being taken in every detail of the case by the officials of both the Home Office and the Criminal Investigation Department.

CHAPMAN AS PROSECUTOR AT THE SESSIONS.

The arrest of Chapman recalls the fact that only a few months ago he was the prosecutor in a remarkable case at Southwark police-court, where a man and a woman were charged with conspiring

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and obtaining 700 pounds from him by false pretences connected with worthless shares in a defunct gold mining company. The case came on at Newington Sessions on June 19, when Matilda Gilmor, alias Oxenford, a married woman of Brixton, and Alfred Clark, a commercial traveller, were charged with conspiring together to obtain 700 pounds by false pretences from George Chapman. The evidence showed that at one time Clark lodged with a Mrs. Gillmor, a widow, at Liverpool, and stole some certificates, bearing her name, and representing a large number of shares in the Caledonian Gold Mining Company, Limited. In the early part of March the female prisoner, who had been known to the prosecutor as a customer, and who gave the name of Matilda Gillmor, obtained 700 pounds, it was alleged, from him on the security of several of these share certificates, which had become worthless. When the woman was arrested it was found that her real name was Oxenford, and that she was the wife of a traveller. She said she obtained the share certificates from Clark, who was a friend, but declared that she borrowed 7 pounds only from the prosector. - Chapman swore that he went on two separate days and took the money in gold and notes out of a drawer upstairs. The withdrawal of these sums still left some money to carry on his business. He stated that at the Monument public-house his takings were 40 pounds weekly, and that when the lease ran out in January the brewers paid him 100 pounds for the fittings. The licence of the Crown Inn was transferred to him in February on his paying 60 pounds for fittings and 160 pounds for utensils. - The defence directed their cross-examination to discrediting Chapman's story that he had more than 700 pounds in his house. He could only say that he "didn't believe in banks," when he was asked whether he thought a drawer in a room to which other people had access was a safe place to keep so large a sum. Maude Marsh, who was called "Mrs. Chapman," gave evidence that she remembered "the guv'nor" counting up gold to be exchanged at the Bank of England for notes. There were certain entries as to these sums, which the girl was asked to swear to as in her handwriting, though it was subsequently explained by Chapman that he had torn out his wife's entries and copied them in plainer figures. Maude Marsh in her evidence always spoke of "the guv'nor" - never "my husband." The jury found the female prisoner "Not guilty," and Clark "Guilty." Mr. Loveland discharged Mrs. Oxenford, who it was stated had been under the influence of the man, and sentenced Clark to three years' penal servitude and two years' police supervision.

CHAPMAN'S CAREER.

The man Chapman had, it appears, always been a person of some notoriety in the Borough owing to his strong pro-Boer proclivities. He had openly rejoiced at the time of certain Boer successes, maintaining his opinion in most stalwart fashion, even when it was scarcely expedient to do so. On his own showing he had led a most adventurous career, and had served in various capacities on board ship before finally settling down ashore, mainly as a ship's steward, and sometimes as ship's barber. Born in South America in 1865 he went to sea as a youngster, visited Australia, Capetown, and other places, and came to England about nine years ago. He was not well-educated, but he had a knack of falling on his feet wherever chance put him; and it was his boast that he was able to turn his hand to anything. On his arrival in this country he set up in business as a hairdresser and umbrella repairer at Hastings. He was assisted in the business by a lady, who is still remembered in this favourite seaside resort.
Chapman was bronzed and fairly healthy looking then, said he had been at sea a great deal, and proceeded to look for "a little crib" in the town where he could carry on business as a hairdresser. For a start he took part of some premises which were sublet to him in a poorer part of the town. He soon left there, however, and hearing that an old-established hairdressing business was for sale in George-street he bought it, cash down. This shop is but a short distance from the front. It lies just behind the Albion, in the narrowest part of George-street, in Old Hastings. With him to this business came the lady known now as "the first Mrs. Chapman." She was short and plump, and wore her fair hair as short as a man's. With her was a little boy known as "Willie." He was her son, but Mr. Chapman was not his father. Mrs. Chapman's story was that this child was the offspring of her first husband, who, she told several acquaintances, was a doctor. Willie did not lead a happy life, and the neighbours took compassion on him. When the shop was shut Mr. and Mrs. Chapman used to sleep in a room they rented some streets away, and Willie was left for the night either in the shop or in the cellar underneath it.
For the first week or so business was not very brisk in George-street, so Mr. and Mrs. Chapman put their heads together and concocted various schemes to attract customers. In these days lady barbers had not been heard of - at any rate, on the south coast. Mrs. Chapman was the pioneer. Dressed in a smart apron, and with sleeves rolled up over her plump arms, she set to and acted as lady latherer - and the customers began to come in a good deal more numerously. She even tried her hand at shaving, but never took it up seriously. Then another scheme was tried. Mrs. Chapman could play the piano. So Chapman hired one and put it in the front of the shop. Upon the advent of customers Mrs. Chapman would first lather them energetically, wipe her hands, and then sit down at the piano and play popular airs while her husband worked the razor. These "Musical Shaves" soon brought business to the house. Mrs. Chapman had some money of her own, and she and her husband invested in a small sailing-and-rowing boat, christened the Mosquito. His great idea was to sail over to Boulogne in his little craft, but he never succeeded. On one occasion the boat capsized and Chapman and his wife were rescued by some fishermen. Chapman was invariably dressed in a blue serge suit and a peaked pilot cap. He was generally regarded as "an adventurous sort of person." He had little to say for himself, trusted no money to the banks, and towards the end of his sojourn in Hastings was manifestly unhappy at his wife's increasing fondness for drink. The Chapmans stayed six months at this shop. One morning the barber sold the business to a Mr. Robinson, who owned the furniture shop nearly opposite; and the next day he and Mrs. Chapman and the boy were gone.
Chapman subsequently visited Dover, and then, coming to London, took the Prince of Wales's public-house in Bartholomew-square, just off the City-road. He was there about 12 months. Towards Christmas, 1897, Mrs. Chapman, whose health had been noticeably failing since she left Hastings, took to her bed, and a Dr. Hall (since dead), who lived near, was called in to attend her. She became worse and worse, and died quietly at two o'clock on the afternoon of Christmas day. She was buried at Manor-park cemetery. Several customers of

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the Prince of Wales's attended the funeral, and the whist club subscribed for a handsome wreath.
After the funeral, Mr. Chapman advertised for a barmaid; and several came in, on trial. He eventually chose one and duly married her at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, on a Sunday morning some four or five months after the death of his first wife. There was no honeymoon. The husband and his new wife were both serving in the bar on the Sunday evening. The boy Willie (according to Chapman's own story) was sent to a Barnardo home. Soon after the wedding Chapman went to Bishop Stortford, whence he came to the Monument public-house, which he held on a lease from the Bridge House Estates Committee. To quote the words of neighbours, the second Mrs. Chapman was "one of the nicest ladies who ever breathed." She was very kind to the poor, genial to the customers at the public-house, and generally looked up to in the neighbourhood as "a most superior lady." At Christmas-time she gave away toothsome little cakes and sweetmeats, made by her own hand, to the people who came into the public bar. She was an expert cyclist; and when the Monument was closed after midnight she was often seen, in a smart cycling dress, "exercising" up and down the road. She fell ill, somewhat suddenly, in February, 1901, and Dr. M. Stoker, of 221, New Kent-road, was a constant attendant at her bedside. The clergy attached to All Hallows', Pepper-street (close by), and two of the sisters were also called in, and did all that they could - for which Chapman expressed himself truly grateful. To Mr. Duthy, the vicar, he particularly mentioned how much indebted he was to the curates and sisters for their kindly sympathy and help. But all the nursing in the world could not save Mrs. Chapman. She died on the 13th of the month.
After much difficulty the police discovered the identity of the second Mrs. Chapman. A mourning card was unearthed, bearing the following inscription: - "In loving memory of Bessie Chapman, wife of George Chapman, and daughter of Thomas P. and Betsy Taylor, who died Feb. 13, 1901, aged 36 years, and was interred at Lymm, Feb. 15." On the other side was the verse: -

Farewell, my friends, fond and dear,
Weep not for me one single tear;
For all that was or could be done,
You plainly see my time was come.

Lymm, in Cheshire, five miles from Warrington, was the native village of Bessie Chapman. Inquiries in the neighbourhood of Prestonbrook were successful in tracing a relative living at Prestonbrook, and who stated that she and Mrs. Chapman were the only daughters of the late Mr. and Mrs. T.P. Taylor. Mr. Thomas Parsonage Taylor, the father, was well-known within a wide radius of Warrington as a farmer and cattle dealer. His death took place on June 11 of this year, and his wife died on Aug. 22. Their daughter was a bright and attractive young woman, and had served in several gentlemen's houses in London as a housekeeper. Her parents were entirely unaware that she was keeping company with anyone in London until they heard that she had been married to Chapman. After her marriage she visited her home several times, and spoke of her husband in the best of terms. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor visited their daughter's house, the Monument, and both had expressed themselves to other members of the family as highly delighted with Chapman; in fact, Mrs. Taylor had said of him "she never saw a better husband." Mr. Taylor's business occasionally took him to Jersey, and Chapman was always ready to meet him at any hour in order to give him every assistance. Other members of the family who had visited the house had always been cordially welcomed and well treated. Mrs. Chapman and her family were ignorant of the fact that he had been previously married. Mrs. Chapman at the time of her death was 35 years of age, and during her illness was nursed with great care by her mother and a trained nurse named Stevens.
In regard to Maude Marsh the neighbours of the Monument were much surprised to find it stated that she was not married to Chapman. It is stated that what was generally regarded as a genuine wedding was carried out there, the happy couple driving away in a carriage and pair of grey horses, and returning after the presumed ceremony to the hostelry, where a band was engaged and festivities kept up to a late hour.
One striking peculiarity on the part of Chapman is that, despite the fairly large sum of money he must have had in his possession at times, he never had a banking account. Of late years he had taken enthusiastically to amateur photography, and both at the Monument and the Crown he had a dark room in which he kept various chemicals and books on chemistry. He is described as being also an "inventor." He was always making things out of scraps of machinery, and dabbled in electricity. He was very fond of brandishing two large-bore American revolvers, and he kept his hand in at shooting in a strange way. There were many rats in the cellars of the public-house. He set traps for them, caught them alive, and then tied them to a staple in the passage, and fired at them at 15 yards' range.

CHAPMAN'S FIRE.

The circumstances of the fire which occurred at the Monument tavern during Chapman's tenancy of it were reported in some of the London morning newspapers in the following terms: "Last night the firemen at the Southwark-bridge-road headquarters were called to a fire at the Monument tavern, Union-street, Southwark. On arrival they found the door open, the tills empty, the house practically destitute of furniture, and a dangerous fire in progress in the basement of the premises. The outbreak was overcome with difficulty. No trace could be found of the landlord. The police are pursuing investigations." For this report Chapman threatened, and, indeed, commenced legal proceedings, issuing a writ against the Morning Advertiser, but when he was confronted with certain evidence which the police and Salvage Corps officials had obtained, he promptly dropped the threatened litigation. The insurance company affected paid him only a portion of the claim he made for compensation, and cancelled his policy.

CHAPMAN QUITE CHEERFUL.

Chapman has been seen in Brixton prison by a clerk to Mr. Sydney, solicitor for the defence. He is cheerful and confident that he will be acquitted. Asked as to the payment of the expenses for the burial of the deceased woman out of the 158 pounds found by the police on the premises, he readily assented. The books found at the Crown are diverse in their character, dealing with medical science, recipes for cookery, essays, poetry, and it is said that one relates the experiences of an executioner.

CHAPMAN'S WILL.

The police have traced the certificate with regard to the first Mrs. Chapman, which shows that death was due to phthisis. The body of Maude Marsh is wonderfully well preserved, there being practically no smell and but slight discolouration. The case will come before

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the magistrate next Tuesday, but no evidence whatever will be then offered, it being understood that the Treasury will not be prepared to proceed with the case. A formal remand will be applied for. At the adjourned hearing of the inquest, also, the proceedings will be absolutely formal. The accused has had a further interview with his solicitor's clerk with regard to witnesses for the defence. He is detained in the prison infirmary, as is usual with prisoners under remand on a charge of murder. Up to the present the police have over 20 witnesses for the prosecution. Among the miscellaneous papers found on the premises is the will of the accused man, in which he bequeaths 400 pounds to Maude Marsh. A loaded revolver was also discovered.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, November 2, 1902, Page 5

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Re: Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Karen on Sat 1 Sep 2012 - 8:26

What concerns me about Abberline's statement is this:

"Your appearance saves me the trouble. I intended to write
on Friday, but a fall in the garden, injuring my hand and shoulder, prevented
my doing so until today."

I can't help thinking that it is quite possible that Abberline may have been attacked by "certain individuals" from a "certain organization." A similar thing happened to good old Matthew Packer, who was hospitalized due to his violent attack by unknown visitors after he made certain statements to the police.

Also, in 1903 Abberline was in the process of writing the last part of his diary in which notes on Freemasonry were being jotted down by the good Inspector himself. Maybe word got out to the fraternal brotherhood about his questions regarding Freemasonry.

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Re: Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Guest on Sat 1 Sep 2012 - 8:32

If he WAS being intimidated, it did not work. And he still carried on exposing his beliefs and no ill befell him, so if he was threatened they proved to be empty threats.

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Re: Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Karen on Sat 1 Sep 2012 - 20:12

These threats were hardly empty since he was actually attacked in his own home garden, and it has been stated by Abberline himself that he feared for his life every time he went out on his police duties. He was afraid that he would not come back alive.

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Re: Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Karen on Sat 1 Sep 2012 - 21:28

BOROUGH POISON MYSTERY.
Prisoner at the Police Court.

DOCTOR AND HIS SUSPICIONS.
Remarkable Allegations.

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The outline of what is thought will prove a sensational case was given at the Southwark Police Court this morning, when George Chapman, landlord of the Crown public-house, which is near St. George's Church, in Borough High-street, was brought up, charged with the wilful murder of a woman named Maud Marsh (with whom he had been living) by arsenical poisoning.
Mr. H.J. Sydney appeared for Chapman, who is a pale-faced, middle-aged man, with black curly hair, and a long drooping moustache. He was dressed in a shabby navy blue suit, and carried a peaked cap of the same material in his hand.
Inspector Godley said that, acting on important information that came to his knowledge, he went with Detective-sergeant Kemp on Saturday night to the Crown public-house, 213, Borough High-street, where he saw the prisoner. Witness said to him: -
"Maud Marsh, who has been living with you as your wife, has been poisoned by arsenic, and from the surrounding circumstances I shall take you to the police station whilst I make inquiries about the case."
Prisoner replied, "I know nothing about it. I don't know how she got the poison. She has been in Guy's Hospital for the same sort of sickness."
Chapman was then taken to the police station, and later in the day, after further inquiries had been made, he was charged with the wilful murder of Maud Marsh. His answer was: - "I am innocent; can you let me have bail?"

Medical Books Found.

The woman (continued the inspector) died at prisoner's house on the 22nd inst. Chapman was the only person who used to feed her. He would not allow any other person to be in the kitchen when he was preparing her food.
Witness said he had further ascertained that this was the third woman who had died in the prisoner's house within the last five years. The doctor, it was alleged, was now of opinion that prisoner's wife, who died at the Monument on Feb. 13th, had been poisoned. Five medical books had been found in his possession, and some white powders that had not yet been analysed.
Mr. Sydney applied for bail, which was opposed by the Inspector, who said that Chapman came from America in 1893. He had no banking account. About 300 pounds in notes and gold had been found in the house, and there was nothing to prevent him leaving this country.
The magistrate refused to grant bail.
Mr. Sydney then asked that the money should be handed over to Chapman for the purpose of his defence.
Inspector Godley said he had no objection to letting prisoner have the gold and silver, amounting to about 160 pounds, but the balance of 110 pounds in Bank of England notes he asked permission to retain, because further investigations regarding the notes "might lead to something."
The Magistrate, in remanding Chapman for a week, instructed the police to hand over to Mr. Sydney, on Chapman's written application, the gold and silver found at the house on prisoner's arrest.

Prisoner's Antecedents.

The prisoner (says a correspondent) is a man of peculiar appearance and varied career. He prosecuted in a somewhat remarkable case at the Southwark Police Court some months ago, when a man and woman were charged with conspiring to obtain, and obtaining, 700 pounds from him, by means of false pretences connected with worthless shares in a defunct gold mining company. The certificates had been stolen from a lady residing at Liscard, Cheshire, who gave evidence in the case, as also did the deceased girl, Maud Marsh, who was then said to be Mrs. Chapman.
The result of the case was that the man got three years' penal servitude and the woman was acquitted, but during the proceedings Chapman was severely cross-examined as to his antecedents, and was threatened with a process for perjury, which, however, the magistrate refused to grant. Chapman described himself as a South American, who came to this country in 1893. He also said he had been to Australia and the Cape.
Shortly after he came to England he set up at Hastings as a hairdresser, and called himself "Professor Chapman." He also went in for photography. He went into the public-house business at Dover, and then came to London, and took the Monument, in Union-street, Borough. His wife died there in February last year, and his tenancy ended with a fire.

The Deceased Woman.

The girl Marsh, whose parents live at Longfellow-road, West Croydon, was employed as barmaid at the Monument, and subsequently lived with Chapman as his wife at the Crown. She was a good-looking girl, lively and industrious, and appeared to be greatly attached to the prisoner.
Chapman's accent denotes German extraction, and his speech and handwriting are those of an illiterate person. He was accustomed to keep all his money in the house rather than trust it to a bank.
When placed in the dock he looked in very poor condition, but his demeanour was cool and collected. He stood quite still, with hands behind his back, but his eyes were glancing from side to side continually. He attended the Court as prosecutor in a wilful damage case last Thursday, the day after the death of the girl Marsh.

Source: The Echo, Monday October 27, 1902

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Re: Poison Mystery in the Borough

Post by Karen on Sat 1 Sep 2012 - 21:32

GREAT POISON TRIAL.
THE BOROUGH MYSTERY.

Chapman at the Old Bailey.
SPEECH FOR THE CROWN.

(BY OUR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE.)

The trial of Severino Klosowski, a Pole, who is better known as George Chapman, is the first important one of its kind which has occupied the attention of a jury at the Old Bailey since the notorious Neill Cream case in 1895. That case created a great sensation at the time, and in many respects the present affair is similar in character. Cream selected a certain class of women as his victims, whilst Chapman is alleged to have confined his operations to those three unfortunate women who lived with him at various times and places. Never in the history of crime has such a case been before the public; there is an element of mystery about the whole affair; the prisoner himself - Sphinx-like, as he has been all through the many police court hearings - presents a psychological problem which affords much study. The "Borough Mystery," as it is called, although completely thrashed out at the petty hearing, begins a new stage today, when the alien prisoner appeared in the dock of the Old Bailey charged with the murder of three women -

Mary Isabella Spink (or Chapman).
Elizabeth Taylor (or Chapman).
Maud Eliza Marsh (or Chapman).

The details of the separate cases would fill a good-sized volume if written at length, but the sum and substance of the whole evidence is the allegation that Chapman despatched each of these women by poisoning them with tartar emetic, which contains antimony. Over one hundred witnesses have been called upon to give evidence for the Treasury, and the prisoner Chapman has his defence in addition.

The Scene in Court.

The scene at the Old Bailey this morning was similar to that which precedes every important case. The small Court has improved greatly in the matter of lighting since the dark and grim buildings outside were pulled down.
It almost looked cheerful in comparison, and as if affected by the changed appearance, the jurors in waiting chatted pleasantly with one another, and the barristers - young and old - discussed the case, sometimes not from a purely legal point of view. The galleries were filled with those who set out with the intention of devoting their attention for a week to the intricacies of the case. It is strange what a fascination these "big" cases seem to have for all classes alike. Men and women - and there were several ladies occupying the front seats near the judge's bench - came prepared to sit in a stuffy Court for hours in order to follow the evidence. But there they were, and what space was not given over to them was devoted to the needs of the large number of journalists engaged. Mr. G.R. Sims was present, and followed the case with that close attention which he usually gives to a subject.
The hearing by Mr. Justice Grantham was fixed for eleven o'clock, and prior to that hour the well of the Court was filled with the law's representatives. The Solicitor-General (Sir Ed. Carson) took his seat with Mr. Mathews and Mr. Bodkin. It is rarely that Sir Edward comes to the Court now, only in important cases, and his presence lent a something to the proceedings which it lacks when he is not present.
By the side of the Crown counsel were those of Chapman - Mr. George Elliott, with his rubicond, beaming face looking as if nothing were too difficult for him to tackle; with him were Mr. Arthur Hutton and Mr. V. Lyons. Chapman himself was as good as a fourth, for he was provided with numberless slips of blue paper, on which he pencilled his points as he made them.

Chapman's Appearance.

He looks very bad, as though his protracted stay in prison had taken all the energy out of him, for at the beginning of the petty trial he was very sprightly, and moved about in a rather jaunty manner. His eyes have a haunted, peculiar look; the hollow of the cheeks was accentuated by the shaving of the "mutton chops" and the clipping of the moustache. His hair was brushed neatly back over his forehead. The clothes looked very shabby, and the tie was negligently done up.
He had a good look round the Court before he found himself addressed by the Clerk of Arraigns, who read over the charges against him. The arrival of the judge little concerned him, as apparently did the repetition of the counts, for in a very small voice he said, "Not guilty" to all of them, being asked once to repeat his plea because it was inaudible.

The Solicitor-General's Speech.

The jury having been duly sworn in, the case proceeded with the opening speech of the Solicitor-General, who began in low tones. The case of Maud Marsh was taken first, and in a few rapid sentences the Solicitor-General described the death of the poor girl, and of the suspicious circumstances which were noted by the doctor.
"The consequence was that the doctor properly refused to give a certificate before an inquiry was made," remarked Sir Edward, "and found that poison had been administered to Maud Marsh."
It was subsequently found that the particular poison was antimony, and the important question was, "Was that antimony administered to the woman by the prisoner?"
"What is antimony?" asked counsel.
"It is a metal reduced to a chemical powder called tartar emetic, and it has the peculiar property of preserving whatever body it has been administered to after death. So much so that after several years, when examined, the body looks as if it had only lately died and lately coffined."
The administration of antimony brought about several symptoms, chief among which were sickness, a burning sensation, a weakening of the constitution until death supervened.

Career of the Prisoner.

Then, turning suddenly from this subject, Sir Edward approached the career of the prisoner, to which he invited the jury's special attention.
"It is important to remember," it was pointed out, "that Chapman is a Russian Pole, and that in his early days in Warsaw he was apprenticed to various surgeons, having studied medicine in the meanwhile." That was in 1886, and Chapman is 36 years old, and he must have had considerable training in medicine and surgery. In 1888 he came to this country in the name of Klosowski, and set up as barber at various places. The Solicitor-General did not know whether in Russia they combined the trade of barber and surgeon; certainly in England the custom had died out when the barber performed small surgical operations in addition to his other work. At any rate, Chapman (or Klosowski, as he called himself all the while) set up shop, and in October, 1889, married a woman named Lucy Badersky, who was still alive, as she had left him for many years.

Isabella Spink's Death.

In 1895 he went to the High-road, Tottenham, and opened another shop. Then he met a girl named Annie Chapman, living in Leytonstone, and adopted her name. The following year he went to Hastings, and it was while there that the most important incident of the whole affair was enacted. Chapman was living with a woman named Isabella Spink, and still continued his hair-dressing business. During his stay there he purchased from Mr. Davidson, a chemist, an ounce of tartar emetic - the very kind of poison which had caused the death of Maud Marsh.
Fortunately the poison-book had been kept, and there was Chapman's signature for the purchase of the 437 and 1/2 grains. "It must be remembered that ten grains alone prove a fatal dose," said counsel, "and here we have Chapman with large quantities upon him."
The relation of the prisoner to the two women in the indictment was briefly traced; their deaths passed with but little comment, until the day when Maud Marsh came to the Monument public-house, where he was. She was engaged as a barmaid; the mother, who came with her, rather objecting that he should be in the house with Chapman alone. But the girl went, and after a little while settled down to work.
The parties from that time got intimate, and one Sunday morning they went out - as he stated - to get married, the girl returning with a ring on her finger. They went to live at the Crown public-house, in the Borough, and nothing happened for a while.
In the July of 1902, however, a barmaid named Florence Raynor held a conversation with the prisoner in the bar. He asked her, in fact, to marry him and go to America.
At this point Mr. Elliott raised an objection to the statement, but the judge allowed it, and Sir Edward went on to quote from the evidence given at the inquest. The girl replied, "You know that your own wife is downstairs, and you don't want me." Chapman said, "I would give her that," intimating a pinch of something, "and she would be no longer Mrs. Chapman. I can send you to America, and I can come on afterwards."
"That date," said Sir Edward, in decisive tones, "synchronises with the illness of Maud Marsh." The poor girl from that July became worse, and a few weeks later was so bad that she had to go to the hospital.

Poisoning Not Suspected.

"Of course, no one suspected poisoning at that stage," observed the Solicitor-General. "The symptoms baffled the doctors; but it is a remarkable fact that when she was under the care of the doctors she undoubtedly got better."
Apparently this was so, for Maud Marsh was allowed to return to the Crown, only to fall into a worse stage of sickness than before. All the while the prisoner was most solicitous.
Maud Marsh got worse and worse until she was at the point of death. The cause of the illness could not be ascertained, and on one occasion Chapman suggested that it was a rabbit-pie which had been prepared that had done the mischief. But as no one else was ill subsequent to partaking of the pie, that was dismissed.
The Solicitor-General detailed the various stages of the last illness, and then the almost sudden death of the poor girl. Then came the catechism by the doctor who had attended. "What did she die of?" asked the latter. "Exhaustion," replied Chapman. "What caused the exhaustion?" "Oh, diarrhoea and sickness," he made answer. "What caused that?" and Chapman was silent. Just a passing remark was made of Chapman's suspicions about Mrs. Marsh. Chapman had called her an "old cat"; he thought she wanted "to show him up." He told the nurse to let him know if the mother said anything.

The Post-mortem Examination.

Dr. Stoker took over the burden of making a private post-mortem examination, and found that there were traces of arsenic in the organs that he took away, and from the result of his investigations an inquest was held, and Chapman was arrested by Detective Godley. Before that occurrence he saw the nurse who attended Maud Marsh and paid her some money. He made this remarkable utterance, "I will give you no spirits; when you have spirits you talk." He further stated that he had destroyed the cloths that had been used in the illness. A full post-mortem examination was later held by Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Freyberger, and a strange thing about the body was that it presented no signs of putrefaction. No natural disease was found, and they came to the opinion that death was due to an irritant metallic poison, and that death probably resulted from the antimony which was discovered in all parts of the body to the total of 21.12 grains. In the bowels alone there were 16 grains of the substance. Practically, said the Solicitor-General, the whole of the poor girl's body was saturated with antimony.

Medical Books and Pamphlets.

When Detective Godley searched the house a number of medical books and pamphlets were found. Amongst them was a bottle which had evidently been washed. The doctor thought it right to submit the bottle to chemical analysis, and the result was that the liquid inside was found to contain bismuth and antimony - the latter in large proportions. Now, Dr. Stoker had only ordered bismuth in his medicine, and had none in his surgery - he dispensed his own medicines - for many years. Antimony was not now generally used as a medicine, and he thought the jury would come to the conclusion from the evidence that the poison found its way into that medicine bottle not for the purposes of a medicine at all, but for the purposes of being introduced into the system of the unfortunate woman.

Narrowing the Issues.

Upon that the case stood, and he said there could be no doubt that the girl died from poisoning by antimony. There were only three or four people who could possibly have administered the antimony. One was the nurse, Jessie Toon, but she did not come into the service until after the illness had begun. Then there was the father and mother, whose devotion to the girl would cause no one for a moment to suggest that they did anything but their very best to get her back. Another was the servant, who never prepared the food at any time. There remained only one person - the prisoner at the bar, the man who came in close contact with the girl, and took upon himself personally to introduce into the room the only food and the only drink she ever received, and the man who, in 1897, purchased nearly 500 grains of the very poison which this woman had taken; a man who also was acquainted with drugs and poisons.
The evidence pointed only in one way. It showed the master hand of the man who, from his previous experience, thought that he might even run the risk of allowing these symptoms to be examined by a skilled doctor. No one but a man who himself was acquainted with medicines would probably have dared to run the risk.

The Exhumations.

The learned counsel was about to enter into the circumstances connected with the deaths of the two former Mrs. Chapman, when Mr. Elliott entered an objection against this being done, and relied on a law case to support him in the matter. The Judge thought it admissible, but called upon the Crown to reply. Singularly enough, Mr. Edward Carson quoted the Neill Cream case.
Mr. Justice Lawrance held that he could go into the facts, and the Solicitor-General briefly alluded to the exhumation of the bodies. They had obtained exhumation orders, and when the graves were opened they found that the features and heads of the women were perfectly preserved, the bodies appearing as though they had only been coffined that very day.
In solemn tones the Solicitor-General said, "In fact, I might repeat verbatim, with the exception only of changing the names of the women, the doctor, and the nurses, the sufferings and tortures these unfortunate, poor creatures were subjected to."
Cases of poisoning, he went on, were rare, and he trusted that the jury would give very earnest attention to the evidence as it would be presented to them.

"Chapman's" Antecedents.

On the Court re-assembling after the customary half-hour adjournment for luncheon, Mr. Bodkin rose and called the first of the long series of witnesses.
A short man, with his features almost hidden in long grey hair, walked clumsily up the steps leading to the witness box, in answer to the name of Woolf Levissohn. He knew Chapman as long ago as 1888. "At that time," he told the Court, "I knew him as Ludwig Zagovski. He told me he had been a "faldscher" - i.e., a surgeon's assistant - in Poland, and he spoke Polish when not Yiddish." "We used to talk about medicines," and once, he further explained, when "Zagovski" asked him to get him a prescription made up he told him, "No, I don't want to get twelve years."
At this time - in 1888 - prisoner was taking casual labour as a barber's assistant, and a young Jewess, Ethel Radin, succeeded Levissohn in the witness-box to prove that prisoner had been employed at her hair-dressing establishment in Shoreditch as an immigrant from Warsaw.

Source: The Echo, Monday March 15, 1903

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