Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amelia Winters' Ambitious Plan to Murder 27 Relatives Interrupted After 5 Successes, Deptford, England - 1889

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): London – The body of Sidney Bolton, aged eleven years, who died at Deptford in February last, was exhumed to-day, and evidences of arsenical poisoning were found in the remains. The boy had boarded with a Mrs. Winter [Amelia Winters], a relative, who, upon his death, obtained £20 insurance by forging the name of the boy's mother to the insurance receipt. It is learned that since 1885 Mrs. Winter has insured twenty-seven relatives, and that five of them have died. It is believed that she poisoned the five, and that she intended to poison all the others. Mrs. Winter, whose arrest is imminent, is now ill.

[“A Thriving Business. - Mrs. Winter Goes Into Insurance to Win.” Syndicated, St. Paul Daily Globe (Mn.), May 10, 1889, p. 5]

FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): At the Breaktpear Hotel, Brockley, on July 10, Mr Wood resumed the adjourned inquests on the bodies of Sydney Bolton, aged 11 years, and Williams Sutton, aged 74 years, whose remains were recently exhumed by order by the Home Secretary. Since the adjournment a third body, that of Elizabeth Frost, aged 47 years, has also been exhumed, and the organs examined, like those of the others, by Dr. Stevenson, analyst to the Home Office.

Each of the persons whose death formed the subject of inquiry has been, together with others, insured by Mr Winters, of 153, Church-street, Deptford.

The boy Sydney Bolton lived with Mrs [Amelia] Winters, for some time before his death. His sister also lived there, and was first taken ill but recovered. The boy was next seized with similar symptoms and died, Dr Stevenson finding in the body traces of arsenical poisoning. It was alleged that Mrs Winters declared the insurance policy to have lapsed, but subsequently it transpired that she had received £20 from one office and £10 from another.

Suttton appears to have been insured for £8 14s. He went out of the workhouse on December 4 last, and died at Mrs Winter’s house four days later.

Mrs Frost, whose body was the third exhumed, was insured for £5. In all, five persons whose lives were insured by Mrs Winters had died, the first on July 18, 1886, and the last (Bolton) on February 11 of this year. The coroner now swore the jury to inquire into the death of Elizabeth Frost [the elder], who died on February 7, 1888. Mr Thomas Bond, F.R.C.S. [Fellow Of The Royal College Of Surgeons], described the result of the post mortem examination of the bodies of William Button and Elizabeth Frost. In Sutton’s case the appearances were quite consistent with death from an irritant poison. In the case of Elizabeth Frost the state of preservation in which the intestines were found indicated the presence of some preservative each as arsenic. The intestines were sent to Dr Stevenson. A number of other witnesses were examined.

The jury returned a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ against Amelia Winters and Elizabeth Frost, her daughter, in each of the three cases, adding that Dr Macnaughton had been reckless in the manner in which he bad given the certificates, and that the facilities given by the loose system of some insurance societies is an incentive to wilful murder. The coroner made out his warrant against the two women to appear at the Central Criminal Court.

Mrs Winters’ daughter Elizabeth, who is married to one of the sons of the deceased Mrs Frost, was in court with a baby at her breast, and when the coroner’s warrant was made out she was immediately arrested and taken into an ante room. Her husband, who witnessed the arrest, one of the charges being for murdering his mother, was completely broken down with grief, and sobbed like a child.

[Female Poisoners At Deptford.  - Five Persons Poisoned. - A Mother And Her Daughter Committed For Trial, The Colonist (Nelson, New Zealand), Sep. 2, 1889, p. 4]

NOTE: Some sources have “Winter” and others have “Winters.”

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