Who Murdered Mary Minting, destroyed himself, and was buried at a cross-road
ON Saturday night, the 14th of February, 1818, a little before nine o'clock, the proceedings in the examinations then before the sitting magistrate at the public office, Bow-street, was suddenly interrupted by the gaoler introducing a man to the magistrate, and saying, 'Sir, this man's daughter has just been murdered!' which alarming and unexpected communication induced the magistrate to suspend all other business, and attend to this communication. The man was so much overcome by grief, that his first statement was incomprehensible. He began talking about her and him, as if the magistrate was previously well acquainted with the parties and circumstances. The magistrate inquired of him where the person lived who had been murdered, &c. He replied, she lived with him when she was alive, but now she was no more, having been murdered about three quarters of an hour since in his own house by a man of the name of WILLIAM HAITCH, and then burst into tears. The magistrate desired him to compose himself, that he might be able to relate the circumstances attending the horrid deed, that no time might be lost in making exertions to pursue and secure the murderer. After a little time he recovered himself; and related that the deceased, his daughter, married a man of the name of William Haitch some months since, who represented himself to be a man of considerable property; and, to prove which, he produced writings, &c. all of which had turned out to be a mere fabrication, to deceive himself and his daughter. After this discovery, it was ascertained that William Haitch was a married man, and that his wife was living at the time he married his daughter; and, in consequence of this discovery, William Haitch was apprehended on a charge of bigamy, and taken to the police-office in Hatton garden, where, after undergoing an examination, he was discharged. He did not state on what ground he was discharged, but said, that both his deceased daughter and his first wife appeared against him. His deceased daughter returned home to live with him.
He stated his name to be John Minting, a carpenter, residing at 24 Union-street, Middlesex-hospital. On that evening, about three quarters of an hour previous to the time at which he was speaking, his daughter was in a room on the first floor, when a young woman, a friend of hers, known by the name of Clarke, went to her and told her a person at the door wanted to speak to her, and he had no doubt but Clarke told her it was Haitch who wanted her. In about five minutes after, his daughter left the room to go downstairs to speak to Haitch; he heard a noise in the passage, which he described as a stamping noise, which induced him to go into the passage to ascertain the cause, when he discovered his daughter lying down with her throat cut, and bleeding most profusely; she was speechless. He gave an alarm, and surgeons were sent for, and two arrived in a very short time, but life was extinct. He said it was not known with what description of instrument the horrid deed had been perpetrated, as none had been found on the spot. It is supposed he must have stopped her mouth with something to prevent her making an alarm, as she was not described to have screamed or called out for help.
The magistrate, on hearing these dreadful circumstances related, called all the officers in attendance at the office before him, and despatched them in different directions in pursuit of William Haitch.
The police continued on the look-out the whole of the following day, Sunday, when, about eight o'clock in the evening, he was recognized by a person who knew him at the Jerusalem chapel in Lisle-street, Leicester-square, where he was on his knees in apparent fervent devotion; the person who knew him communicating the circumstance to some persons present, he was immediately taken into custody, and the chapel thrown into the utmost confusion, on which he calmly surrendered and confessed his guilt, and expressed, that he had been an unhappy man, but now he was aware that he should shortly be rendered happy, and that his life was a burden to him. An officer was sent for to whom he was given in custody, and he was conveyed, for that night, to St. Martin's watch-house.
On the 16th February this inhuman monster was brought before the magistrates at Bow-street, and being placed at the bar was formally charged with the murder of Mary Minting, in Union-street, Middlesex-hospital, on Saturday night, the 14th February.
On being questioned by sir Nathaniel Conant, the presiding magistrate, he said, that he was born in Berkshire, was a stocking weaver by trade, and served his apprenticeship in Lambeth. His father was a coachman. At present, he said, he followed no business. The following witnesses were examined:
Rebecca Clarke deposed, that she lodged at No. 24 Union-street, Middlesex-hospital. The deceased, Mary Minting, and her father, lived in the same house. About eight o'clock on Saturday evening, witness was going out upon an errand, and saw the prisoner near the door. He spoke to her, and said he wanted to speak to Mary, meaning Mary Minting. She had seen him before, and knew that he was acquainted with Mary Minting. Witness returned to the house, and fetched the deceased from upstairs. The prisoner spoke to her in a low tone of voice, as he stood on the threshold of the door. Witness did not hear what the prisoner said, but she heard the deceased say, 'It is of no use; I directed the letter for Mr Haitch, and not for Mrs Haitch.' She then returned into the house, and went upstairs a little way, but came down immediately with her sister and witness, and again went to the door. The prisoner was still there; and on seeing them all together, he said, 'What do you all do here?' Witness said nothing, but went upstairs, and the sister of the deceased crossed the street on an errand, leaving the deceased and the prisoner alone, and close together in the passage. Witness had just got up to the garret door, when she heard the noise of stamping and a noise like someone falling. Witness did not go down again, she was prevented by her mother.
Elizabeth Minting, sister of the deceased, deposed that she was at home on Saturday night, and heard the last witness tell her sister that the prisoner wanted her. Witness went down shortly afterwards and saw the prisoner in the passage with the deceased. She left them together, and went out. On her return she saw her sister weltering in her blood in the passage. The prisoner was gone. The head of the deceased was nearly severed from her body, and the passage swam with blood. The deceased was incapable of speaking. There were several persons in the passage.
Elizabeth Montague deposed to the same effect.
Mrs Streeling deposed, that on Saturday evening, about eight o'clock, she was standing at the door of an opposite house to that in which the murder was committed. It was a narrow street; she heard a noise or scuffle in the passage, and immediately saw a man rush out: he shut the door after him, but did not latch it. She went over directly, and hearing more noise in the passage, she went in, and saw the deceased; the man walked quickly away, but did not run; she did not see his face. Witness saw the mother of the deceased in the passage, and heard her cry 'My child, my child.'
James Streeling, a boy about thirteen, deposed to the same effect.
John Wiltshire was in his house at No. 12 King-street, Drury-lane, on Saturday night; his wife was present. The prisoner, whom he had known before, came in about seven o'clock, and asked them, as usual, how they were? Witness's wife spoke to him of his two wives and said there was a warrant out against him from St. Giles's (to the officers of which parish his first wife had applied for relief); upon which he said, that he had that about him that should be the death of the first man or officer that laid hold of him, and he offered to bet witness's wife a shilling that he would produce it, but she would not bet.
Witness's wife talked to him about his wives, and he said, 'd--n the wives; I'll soon get rid of both the old and the new.' The last words he said going out of the door was, 'Don't you be surprised if you hear of my sharing the same fate as the unhappy wretches on Tuesday morning,' (meaning some persons who had been executed on that morning).
The last witness's wife was then examined. She corroborated the testimony of her husband, and added, that when the prisoner talked of being hanged, he told her to buy him a silken cord instead of a hempen one: she said she would.
Mary Smith, who lodged with the last witnesses, confirmed their testimony, and stated that the prisoner had with him a top brown coat and a short fustian jacket.
Henry Adkins, the officer, deposed, that he received information that the prisoner was at Jerusalem Chapel, Lisle street, Leicester- fields. On the evening of the 15th, hbe went and apprehended him after the service: in taking him to the watch-house, he said to him, 'How could you do such a deed?' The prisoner said, 'What deed?' Witness said, 'That's best known to yourself.' The prisoner then said, 'I went to do a deed, but whether I did it or not I cannot tell.' Witness then asked him whether the clothes he then had on were the same in which he did the murder, and he said 'yes.' Witness next asked him what instrument he had used, and whether it was a knife? he said 'no:' and on being asked if it was a razor, he made no answer, but subsequently, after some hesitation, said he had thrown the instrument into the Thames. On the morning of the present examination, prisoner asked the witness if he had been to Union- street, and had seen Minting. (meaning the deceased), adding, 'Poor thing, I dare say she must be dreadfully mangled.'
Sir Nathaniel Conant now addressed the prisoner, and directed him to attend while the evidence was read over to him, intimating at the same time, if he had any question to put, his wish should be attended to.
The prisoner asked Mrs Streeling whether she could swear to his person; to which she answered, as she did before, that she could not; he put no other question.
A surgeon was then called, who proved that he had seen the deceased. The main artery was separated as well as the windpipe. This was the cause of death.
The witnesses were then bound over to appear at the sessions against the prisoner.
Adkins, who had been to the prisoner's lodgings, and had brought from thence some clothes, now asked him if he would have them delivered to himself, or taken back to the place where they were found. He said he wished to put them on, and they were handed to him. On being searched, one half of the Observer newspaper was found next his skin, in which was an account of the murder, and a description of his person: it appeared to have been torn from the shutters of the office. -- At the close of the examination, he was fully committed for trial.
He expressed himself very anxious to have the half of the Observer back; said he was sorry his time was so long to live, as he deserved to be hanged; confessed that he had been a very bad man, and observed that he supposed poor Mary's body was in a sad mangled state.
The following particulars respecting this horrid deed were made known after his committal: -- Haitch was married to his first wife, who was then living, when she was about forty-five years of age, and he was but nineteen. At the time of the murder he was thirty- four years of age, and married the deceased when she was but nineteen years of age. He separated from his first wife about two years before, and from that time passed as a single man. The deceased had been a constant attendant at the New Jerusalem Chapel, in Lisle-street, Leicester-square, where the doctrines and forms of religious ceremonies propagated by the late Baron Swedenbourg are observed, for about twelve months, and where her father and family occasionally went, in consequence of the deceased having espoused the sentiments of that peculiar sect. The prisoner had been a constant attendant at the chapel for about six months, where he became acquainted with the deceased, and they were married at Mary-le-bone church on the 10th of November, 1817: they only lived together five days, in con sequence of the deceased and her family discovering that he was a married man, and that his wife was living. About three or four weeks before the fatal deed, he was apprehended on a charge of bigamy, and taken to Hatton-garden office, from which charge he was discharged owing to there being no witness present at the weddings, the only evidence produced being the two wives, and the certificates of their marriages.
Although this wretched culprit, while under examination at Bow- street, assumed an air of negligence, and expressed a hope that he should have more fortitude than to become his own executioner; yet it was pretty evident to those who watched his conduct, that it partook of a character conveying powerful suspicion. While in custody of Adkins, he was handcuffed and ironed, and two persons were continually kept to watch over him; and when the gaoler of Bow-street delivered him into the custody of the keeper of Newgate, he intimated that he ought to be watched with considerable caution.
On the morning of the 20th of February, when he was called out with the other prisoners who were to be tried, from the yard, he ran to the privy, and shortly afterwards was found with his throat cut from ear to ear, and his head nearly severed from his body. The place, as might be expected, was a complete gore of blood. Near to him was found a crooked razor, and not far from it a document, written by himself, in which it was stated, that the razor with which he perpetrated the horrid deed was the same with which he murdered Mary Minting, and that he had it secreted about him ever since, although he had told Adkins, upon his apprehension, that he had thrown the instrument, with which he committed it, into the Thames. The paper also stated, that he intended to have murdered Mary Minting with a pistol -- that it was his intention first to have shot her, and next himself. The body was removed into the yard, and the circumstance occasioned the greatest alarm and consternation.
An inquisition was taken in Newgate, before the city coroner, upon view of the body, and the following evidence was, detailed: James Manning deposed, that he was wardsman to the divisional apartment in which the prisoner was confined. About half past eight o'clock on Friday morning, the deceased, with several others, had been called down preparatory to their being brought into the court of the Old Bailey, to be arraigned for trial. The deceased, in passing along the yard, made no observation, but stepped quickly into the privy. About two minutes had elapsed, when a person named Wingfield, belonging to the ward, called out to him: no answer being made, he ran to the door of the privy, which he at first found difficult to open, but forcing it, he beheld the deceased upon his knees, with his head reclined upon his arm, and with the latter upon the seat. The head of the deceased was almost severed from the body. A razor, covered with blood, was lying close by on the floor, and the place was filled with gore. The deceased, while under his care, appeared perfectly sane, and three minutes had scarcely elapsed from the time he went into the privy until he was discovered dead in the manner described.
Davis, one of the principal turnkeys, produced the razor; on one side of the handle was engraved the name of 'Gatty,' as was also that of 'Haitch,' but this was scratched. On the reverse was that of Gatty only. The blade was completely blunted at the edge, and crusted with blood.
Mr Box, the city surgeon, said, when called upon, he found the main artery of the throat divided so completely, that it must have produced instantaneous death. He had twice examined the deceased since his commitment, with regard to the state of his mind, and he believed him to be perfectly sane.
Mr Crown, keeper of the prison, here addressed the jury: -- he said, that as a heavy responsibility was naturally attached to him, it would, perhaps, he deemed necessary that he should account for the possession of the razor by the deceased.
Reports upon the subject had been circulated, and among other things, it was said that the instrument had been brought in and delivered to Haitch by his last employer. He would therefore produce two persons who could give evidence on this point. When the deceased was brought into the prison, he inquired of the Bow- street officers whether he had anything dangerous about him? He was answered, no, as a strict search was more than once made of his person. He desired one of the turnkeys, to minutely examine him, which was done, and nothing found. The deceased on Wednesday afternoon smoked his pipe, and evinced great levity. He gave him a religious tract, and endeavoured to impress upon him the awful situation in which he was placed. The deceased returned the book the next morning, saying he had perused it with great attention, and had derived much satisfaction and consolation.
Other witnesses deposed to the fact of his having been searched: nothing was found upon him till after his death, when a letter was discovered, which was addressed to the mother of his murdered wife. The letter purported that he had wished to kill himself and his wife together, and that he still hoped to meet her in another world.
The inquest brought in a verdict of felo de se, and the felon was ordered to be buried in the cross-way, at the top of the Old Bailey.
At the appointed time a great concourse of spectators assembled around Newgate, to witness the consignment of the murderer's remains to an unconsecrated grave. Men were employed early in the morning to dig a hole to receive the body, between five and six feet deep, and they completed their task by seven o'clock. The Under-Sheriff, accompanied by a friend, proceeded in a coach to the felons' door, preceded by a cart, the back part of which was put towards the felons' side door; and shortly after, the body of the murderer, which had been placed on a shutter, was brought out, and elevated in such a position on the cart, as to permit the populace to command a distinct view of it. The spectacle was of an appalling nature. The body was in the same state as when he became his own executioner -- none of his clothes, excepting his coat, having been removed; it was very bloody, and was calculated to excite horror and disgust in the mind of every beholder. In the shutter on which he lay upon his back, a hole had been perforated, and the representation of a gallows made of wood had been introduced into it, and it was so constructed as to hang immediately over the face of the culprit. The razor with which he effected both the murder and suicide was suspended from the gallows. The executioner stood up at the feet of the corpse; and on the arrival of the cart at the spot selected to receive the mangled remains, the Under-Sheriff ordered that time should be given for all present to have a view of the body, and he further ordered one of the executioner's attendants to hold up the gallows and razor to public view, which he did, and the populace having gazed with much attention on the sight before them, for a few minutes, without betraying the slightest sensation of sympathy or pity, the executioner turned up the shutter, and the body was thrown into the pit right upon its face, with clothes, double irons, and every thing he had on at the perpetration of the horrid deed. The gallows and razor were thrown in after him.