Unsolved Murders

Amy Yelland

Age: 36

Sex: female

Date: 4 Feb 1912

Place: 18 Bitton Avenue, Teignmouth

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Amy Yelland died from arsenic poisoning after eating a soup she had made.

She had her husband had some soup and were both taken ill after which Amy Yelland died.

Amy Yelland had been married for about 13 months.

They had ha a hot dinner on the Saturday and were to have it cold on the Sunday. At about 1pm, Amy Yelland started to warm the soup that she had prepared the previous evening in an enamel saucepan. The soup had been prepared from beef that had been bought on the Saturday morning with celery, carrots, peas and a pinch of carbonate of soda. The husband said that after the soup had been made it was put up in two pudding basins which were then placed in the meat safe in which they kept nothing but articles of food.

When the butcher gave evidence at the inquest regarding the beef that he had sold Amy Yelland he said that Amy Yelland had come into his shop at about 8.30am on the Saturday and bought a 2 1/4lbs neck of beef which he said she had told her was for making a soup. The butcher said that it was a portion of a carcase of a bullock that was bought by a butcher in Ipplepen at the Exeter Cattle Market and slaughtered at Ipplepen on the Monday 29 January 1912. The butcher said that he bought two hind quarters and one fore-quarter at Newton Abbot Market on the Wednesday 31 January 1912. He said that he was certain that the meat did not come from abroad and said that it was a maiden heifer of the very best quality. The butcher noted that none of his other customers had complained and that none of them had been poisoned.

The husband said that they had two full ladles of soup, but didn't get any further than that, saying that they then became ill. He said that they did try some pork but said that they couldn't touch it. He said that they didn't notice anything about its taste other than they thought that it didn't have enough salt and that it didn't taste as usual.

He said that Amy Yelland then went to get some plates but said then that she couldn't eat anything and felt sick and went upstairs and vomited a good deal. He added that he was also ill himself downstairs. 

He said that he then went upstairs and found Amy Yelland was faint and so he put her in her bed and then decided to go for a doctor but found that he was too ill to go and so he sent a boy for his brother and a doctor was then called.

He said that he then went to bed at the doctors’ orders, and said that Amy Yelland complained of cold and pains in her stomach. He said that he was also in pain and still vomiting and said that Amy Yelland died at about 11.30pm.

The husband said that he could think of nothing that could have caused the occurrence, noting that they had no poison of any sort in the house.

Amy Yelland's husbands brother who lived in Chelsea Place said that he went over to 18 Bitton Avenue after his brother called for him at 2pm and said that he saw Amy Yelland's husband, his brother, sitting in a chair and said that when he asked him what was wrong, he said, 'I am sick. The soup has poisoned me'. He said that he then saw Amy Yelland and said that she told him that she too was sick, and remarked, 'That soup'. The brother said that he then asked Amy Yelland what he wanted her to do with the remaining soup and said that she told him to throw it away. However, he said that he did not throw it away until after the doctor had arrived.

When the doctor arrived on the Sunday, he said that he found Amy Yelland lying on a bed and said that she complained of being sick, saying that the soup that they had had for dinner had upset her.

The doctor said that he tasted the remains of the carbonate of soda in the tin and said that he was of the opinion that it was carbonate of soda.

The doctor said that when he first saw Amy Yelland and her husband, he thought that although they were both very ill, he didn't think that there was anything alarming or urgent about their condition and said that he thought that there was nothing more to it than a case of them having taken a meal that didn't agree.

However, the doctor said that when he was called again at 8pm, he found Amy Yelland in a grave condition of collapse. He said that he applied several remedial measures with some success and said that she rallied a little but said that she died a short while later. He said that he was with her five minutes before she died.

He said her cause of death as heart failure.

He said that when he carried out her post-mortem, he found nothing in any of her organs to satisfactorily account for her death and said that her stomach was enormously dilated and had been for a long time. He said that her stomach contained about a pint of partially digested food, even though she had vomited. He added that her stomach was so enlarged that it was incapable of emptying itself.

A public analyst later examined parts of Amy Yelland's intestines, the contents of her stomach, as well as her kidney, liver, spleen and stomach and said that he found arsenic in all the organs in large quantities and said that Amy Yelland must have taken at least 10 grains. He said that the arsenic was in a soluble form but said that he could not say what sort of state it had been in when taken, although he said that he found no solid particles of arsenic and that all the arsenic he found was in a state of solution.

He added that two grains were a fatal dose.

The analyst said that he also examined the bones from the soup and said that they too contained arsenic and said that he also examined some residue from the pan that appeared to be burnt and said that there were considerable traces of arsenic in that too. He said that whilst enamel, such as was on the pan could have been a source of arsenic, it would have been in minute quantities and not in the sort of quantities that he had detected.

It was noted that there was no trace of arsenic in the fat that was skimmed off on the Saturday which the inquest heard lent colour to the thought that the arsenic had been introduced after the fat was skimmed off.

It was noted that if the arsenic had been introduced in sold form that it would have settled in the soup, but that after it was heated up again and stirred on the Sunday then it would probably have dissolved and become more uniform in the soup.

The police said that they made enquiries of chemists in the area but could trace no arsenic to Amy Yelland's house. They also said that they searched the house but could find no arsenic.

Amy Yelland's husband said that no one was in the house other than himself, Amy Yelland and another woman and said that when he went out in the morning, he left the dog in the scullery and said that it would let no one in and said that neither he nor Amy Yelland went out leaving the door unlocked.

Amy Yelland's husband noted that Amy Yelland was not insured and added that there was no weed killer in the house.

After hearing the evidence, the jury returned the verdict that Amy Yelland had died from the result of poisoning by arsenic which she had taken in her soup.


see Western Daily Mercury. - Wednesday 21 February 1912

see London Daily News - Wednesday 21 February 1912

see Western Times - Thursday 08 February 1912

see Western Times - Wednesday 21 February 1912