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Unsolved Murders

Harriet Jones

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Date: 9 Mar 1917

Place: Park Street, Failsworth

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Dora Jones, Harriet Jones and Annie Jones died under mysterious circumstances.

An open verdict was found at the inquest on the body of Harriet Jones who was stated to have died from gastro enteritis. the cause was unascertainable.

An analyst examined several parcels of food. He had been given:

  • A portion of bread and a portion of margarine
  • Some patent food
  • Brown sugar
  • Stale bread spread with margarine
  • Unused tin of condensed milk.

He said that the bread, patent food, brown sugar and condensed milk were all fee from arsenic or any other mineral poison but that he had found distinct traces of arsenic on the margarine in the first parcel which had a good deal of breadcrumbs on it. He said that he found about 5 to 10 parts per minim which was an extremely small quantity.

The analyst said that he thought that it was highly unlikely that the margarine originally contained arsenic and that the poison might have been accounted for by the dirt and dust that was found on it.

He said that the amount of arsenic that he had found would not have been sufficient to have caused death.

The analyst said that he also found traces of arsenic on the outside of a paper bag on which he had found a yellowy sticky substance that he found to contain glucose which he thought was probably the remains of some sort of sweetmeat. He said that there were 19 grains of glucose in which there was a distinct trace of arsenic in as little as 10 grains. He said that that amount of arsenic would not have been fatal but that there would have been about one or two grains of arsenic per pound of glucose. He said that if the children had eaten four ounces of sweets containing the glucose that the effects would have been injurious, particularly if the children were badly nourished.

The analyst said that it was only an assumption that the glucose on the bag had been used in the form of sweets.

The father said that he had been taken ill on 16 February 1917 but that he had eaten no sweets. He did say that his children had had some sweets on 10 February.

He said that there was nothing in the house containing poison as far as he knew.

The Coroner said that at first it seemed a simple case of ptomaine poisoning but that there had been surprises and developments and an open verdict was returned.