Nobody could ever tell what Thomas Tattersall would do after a drink, so when he suddenly threw his wife Rebecca onto the hearthrug and tried to strangle her, her brother was not surprised. He bundled Tattersall out of the house to cool off, and that was that.
Rebecca had twice sought a separation from her drunken 31-year-old husband, a Wakefield plasterer who had promised her, “I’ll do for you one day.” For her protection the police had for a time placed the couple’s home under surveillance, and they were not surprised to be called there in the early hours of JULY 3rd, 1905.
The Tattersalls’ 10-year-old daughter Laura had heard a gurgling sound coming from her parents’ bedroom. When she went to investigate, her father came out saying, “If you make a noise, I’ll murder you.”
As he went downstairs Laura peeped into the room and saw her mother lying on the bed. Her head was battered and the gurgling noise was coming from her cut throat. The child ran from the house screaming, “Oh, my daddy’s killing my mammy!”
Neighbours who gathered outside were confronted by Tattersall. “What’s the matter?” he asked. Then before anyone could tell him, he ran off.
By the time a doctor arrived Rebecca had died. A bloodstained razor lay on the bedroom dressing-table, and when her body was moved the police found a hatchet beneath it. The axe had caused Rebecca’s head-wounds, which included a fractured skull.
A hunt for Tattersall failed to find him. Then on the evening of the day after the murder he alighted from a Manchester train at Wakefield’s Kirkgate station, muttering unintelligibly, and was recognised and arrested.
At his trial Thomas Tattersall’s defence of insanity was rejected, and he went to the gallows at Armley Prison, Leeds, on August 15th, 1905.