Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth Kirkbride, Liverpool Serial Killer of Infants - 1877


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): The horrible suspicion that the woman [Elizabeth] Kirkbride had improperly disposed of the bodies of no less than eight children of which she was the mother, is now realized almost to the fullest extent, another child in addition to the six already traced having been added to those that can be clearly accounted for. Strange to say, the latest discovery is, as in the case of the original disclosure of the frightful story, due to the agency of one of the sons of the accused, who now resides at or near Penrith.

The publication of the shocking discoveries of the doings of Mrs. Kirkbride that have from time to time been made, has led to gossip and conjecture and aroused recollections that still further add evidence of the fact that the inhuman creature has committed the full series of revolting crimes she is believed guilty of. Her son referred to now remembers, and has so started to the authorities at Penrith, that some three or four years ago, while he and another brother were clearing out a lumber-room in the house in which they lived at Helton, they came across a parcel tied up in dirty cloth and rags.

They threw it down stairs along with other rubbish, but before putting it away they had the curiosity to open it. It contained, as may be surmised, the body of a child, which, however, without saying anything more About it, the boys threw in the midden. Whether the remains have been traced further we do not learn, but that it was the body of a child there does not appear the least doubt.

The parcel was made up in exactly the same way as those including all the bodies previously discovered, and the recollections of the boys as well as the circumstances point clearly to the conclusion named. It is not improbable that the eighth and last body may also be traced, and then it is hoped there will be an end to the sickening catalogue of horrors presented by this unparalleled case.

[“An Unnatural Mother’s Crime, New York Times (N.Y.), Feb. 20, 1887, p. no. unknown]

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FULL TEXT: The spring assizes of the County of Westmoreland were opened on Wednesday at Appleby, before Baron Huddleston.

In addressing the Grand Jury, his Lordship, on referring to the case of the murder and concealment of the bodies of the 6 infant children at Tuebrook, Penrith and elsewhere, observed that there had been a secret disposition of the bodies of the children, with intent to conceal the births, and there can be no doubt that there are some circumstances in the case, which would strike those who were entrusted with the administration of justice, as sufficient to warrant a more serious charge than that on which the prisoner was indicted. If she had imputed criminality to any other person, he need scarcely say that a statement from such a source should not be to readily accepted.

It was then arranged the case should be heard before Mr. Justice Manisty, who had not arrived from Carlisle until the next day.

The Grand Jury found a true bill in the case.

In the afternoon Elizabeth Kirkbride was placed at the bar. The accounts, three in number, having been read to her by the Clerk of Arraigns, the prisoner pleaded guilty to each.

At the Appleby Assizes on Thursday, Mrs. Kirkbride, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday, was brought up for sentence before Mr. Justice Manisty.

His Lordship addressed the prisoner in severe terms, saying she had pleaded guilty to the three indictments, knowing there was not a shadow of doubt as to the course with which she had pursued, and he feared she knew a great deal more.

Her conduct was almost incredible, the most inhuman that any human being could be guilty of. Both Baron Huddleston and himself had serious doubts whether she ought not to have been tried for murder. It was a case in which he must pass a more than ordinary sentence. The extreme punishment for one of concealment was 2 yrs hard labour, but he would sentence her to 9 mths hard labour for each indictment to which she had pleaded guilty, aggregated punishment being 2 yrs 3mths hard labour.

The prisoner, who manifested no emotion, was then removed.

[“Appleby Assizes - Horrible Discovery At Tuebrook - Sentence on Mrs. Kirkbride,” Liverpool Journal (England), Feb 24, 1877,  page. no. unknown]

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For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.

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