Unsolved Murders

Edward Richard Haskell

Age: 12

Sex: male

Date: 31 Oct 1908

Place: 40 Meadow Road, Fisherton, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Source: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Edward Haskell was murdered at his home and his mother was put on trial twice for his murder, the first time the jury failed to reach a verdict and the second time she was found not guilty. She was initially found guilty by the coroners jury.

Edward Haskell was found dead in bed with his throat cut at about 10.30pm on 31 October 1908. His mother had put him there 50 minutes earlier at 9.40pm.

Edward Haskell had had his lower right leg amputated below the knee and used crutches to get about. He was allegedly killed by a man who was after the money Edward Haskell had saved for a new artificial limb.

Edward Haskell's mother said that she had been in her home and a man came down the stairs with a knife and threatened her and ran off. She said that a man came running down the stairs and threw a blood stained knife at her and ran out of the front door. She said that the blood stains on her clothes came from when the person threw the knife at her.

The police reports stated that the bloodstains on Edward Haskell's mothers blouse and skirt could not have been caused in the manner that she had described and were of the opinion that the stains on the upper part of the skirt were caused by a spray of blood issuing from Edward Haskell's throat after his windpipe had been severed and when taking his last breath, as well as spots of blood on the wall and at the head of the bed and various other items.

A boy who said that at about 10.30pm on the night he had been at the back door which was locked and said that he knocked twice with his knee. He said he heard Edward Haskell's mother say, 'All right' and then heard a chair pulled back. He said that she didnt come to the door immediately and that he then heard a thump like someone jumping and then Edward Haskell's mother came to the door screaming, 'Go and see if you can see that man. He has killed my poor Teddy. Go for the doctor, quick'. He said that when he got to the back door it was locked but it was not unusual for it to be locked at that time of night adding that sometimes it was, and sometimes it wasn't. He said that the thump sounded like someone jumping down from the stairs and that he didnt hear any noises from the front door.

The first person to arrive at the scene was a neighbour who said that he went straight upstairs and saw Edward Haskell in his bed looking quite peaceful. He said that he had been in the same position as if he had just been put away and was in no way disturbed. He also said that the room had an absolutely tidy appearance and that there was nothing to indicate that anything had been interfered with and everything was in its proper place.

There was a wound in his throat, and a wound on the back of his fourth finger of the left hand. The wound in the throat was the cause of death and was made by a sharp  instrument which extended deeply on the right side severing the common (the larger) artery of his neck. His larynx had also severed which would have prevented him from crying out after it was inflicted and from which death would have occurred very rapidly from blood loss.

Edward Haskell's mother had said that 7 sovereigns, 2 half sovereigns and a 2 shilling piece had been seen safe in the folds of a table cloth in one of the top drawers of the chest the previous Thursday and that when a policeman went to look they saw that 4 sovereigns, 1 half crown and the 2 shilling piece had disappeared. Edward Haskell's mother also said that the drawer had been locked. In court the prosecution said that although the lock to the drawer had been forced it was their opinion that it had been in that state for a significant period before and had not been caused on the night. The money had belonged to Edward Haskell and had been given to him over the previous two years by his grandmother to buy a new artificial leg.

When the doctors arrived they attended Edward Haskell but later on washed and moved his body and disarranged his bed clothes so that it was impossible for the police to later see if there were any blood stained fingerprints or other evidence.

When the police arrived they asked Edward Haskell's mother whether any knives were missing and she had a look and said that one was missing and said that it was an old one that was used for rough purposes and said that she had last seen it the previous Thursday when Edward Haskell had used it to make a tip cat and had sharpened it on a whet stone.

Whilst Edward Haskell's mother was in police custody a reverend who had been to see her had said that she had said words to the effect that if she had done it (the murder) she did not remember it. On 30 November the reverend went to see Edward Haskell's mother and he said to her, 'That it was a serous thing and meant either life or death. That Teddy (deceased) was the last boy in the ward whom they thought anything would happen to, as he was loved by everyone and would be missed by the boys at School, and whatever there is between you and God you must tell God, and he will put everything right'. After that the reverend prayed and then left.

He visited again on 3 December and after leaving said that she had asked him to come and see her the next night and that he thought that it was a good thing although he added, 'Of course I must not tell you what has taken place between us'. Then on the Saturday evening 5 December after Edward Haskell's mother had been committed for trial the reverend visited her again and as he was leaving Edward Haskell's mother said, 'Don't forget to thank him for his kindness and and all kind friends for what has been done for us'. A policeman then said that he and the reverend walked down the cell passage together and as he was letting the reverend out the reverend said to him, 'She is so grateful to you all for your kindness, and she says herself the evidence was strong against her, and points straight to her, and if I did do it I dont know anything about it'. The policeman then said that the reverend then said, 'Do you think a woman in her right senses would do such a thing?', and the policeman replied 'I as a Police Officer dare not say', and that the reverend then left.

The policeman said that he then went to see the inspector and told him what the reverend had said and the inspector said that it was very near as good as confessing and so they both went to tell the Chief Constable. The policeman said that he did not make any note of it and that no one else heard the conversation.

The Inspector said that on 3 December he had met the reverend and accompanied him to the Council Chambers where Edward Haskell's mother was detained and closed the door on them. He said that he heard the reverend say, 'If you are guilty you had better say so, as you will have to appear before the great judge which will know all hearts and no secrets are hid'. He said that after when he let the reverend out of the building he said to him, 'Somthing has passed between me and Mrs Haskell which would not be right for me to tell you'.

The inspector also said that when Edward Haskell's mother was driven to Devizes on 6 December in a motor car accompanied by a police matron the police matron had later told him that Edward Haskell's mother had said 'If I did it, I did not know it'.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/187

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 20 November 1908

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 27 November 1908

see The Salisbury Times - Friday 04 December 1908

see BBC

see Bristol Post

see If I did it... I don't remember by Jeremy B. Moody and Bruce S. Purvis (Amazon)