A Grisly Discovery

Policemen retched as they made their way to the source of the smell. After they pulled the fireplace apart with crowbars and shovels, they removed the hearthstones to find the bodies of a woman and two children, all in an advanced state of decomposition. The corpses were wrapped in oilcloth. The woman lay upon her back, while the two children were turned with their faces downward, lying one on each side of her.

The continual strong smell from the floor suggested further investigation. They found another two children embedded in cement. One body was an infant and the other a small girl lying at the woman's feet.  It was a sight none of them would ever forget. The woman and a nine-year-old girl had been strangled, and the others had had their throats cut. Police found a book with the bodies in which the name Deeming had been crossed out and Williams added. Police were left with little doubt that Deeming and Williams were in fact the same person.

chapter continues

At the Rainhill inquest into their deaths two days later, the coroner surmised that the nine-year-old girl had woken from her sleep as the murderer was silently going about his business and had been strangled to keep her quiet.

Two very distressed men from Liverpool came forward at the inquest and identified the woman, formerly Marie James, and the children as being the wife and family of their brother, Frederick Deeming. He had brought them back from Australia a few months earlier.

Marie James Deeming
Marie James Deeming

They explained to police that their brother Frederick Deeming was a cockney, born in London on July 30, 1853. As a young man he travelled as a ship's purser and journeyed to many parts of the world. He had married Marie James of Birkenhead, England in 1881. The two girls, Bertha and Mary, were born in Sydney. In the mid-1880's the Deeming family spent some time in South Africa and their third child, a boy named Sydney, was born at sea.

Deeming and his wife returned to England in 1890 and a baby girl named Leala was born at Birkenhead. After a brief stay with his brothers, Deeming and his family disappeared, obviously to nearby Rainhill, where it appeared that Deeming kept them under wraps at Dineham Villa while he played the eligible bachelor.

Baby Leala, Mary, Bertha & Sydney Deeming
Baby Leala, Mary, Bertha & Sydney Deeming

Then it seemed that he met Emily Mather, and having no further use for his wife and four young children, he cold-bloodedly murdered them and concealed their bodies under the fireplace. He then entered into a bigamous marriage with Emily Mather and took his bride to Australia, where it appeared that he had murdered her, too.

The discovery of the five bodies was on March 16, 1892, just two weeks after the body of Emily 'Williams' was found in identical circumstances in the house in Windsor, 10,000 miles away in Victoria, Australia. Frederick Bailey Deeming had a lot of explaining to do.

1. England and Australia 1891-1892

2. The Long Arm of the Law

3. Piecing Together the Truth

4. A Grisly Discovery

5. Extradited

6. Moustache

7. Trial

8. The Author

- Book Titles

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