The dinner guest was in a jaunty mood. He sat down at the table apologising for his wife’s absence, but remarking how pleased he was to be among the company. As the dinner went on, the guest, Charles O’Donnell, 57, said a few more things too, and from the way the conversation was going one or two of the other guests got the impression that there might be a sinister reason why Mrs. Elizabeth O’Donnell wasn’t there that night.

The O’Donnells, they remembered, were not the average sort of people you invited to dinner. O’Donnell had recently been released from a mental asylum. After that the couple had separated for a short time, then come together again, renting a room in Rawlings Street, Chelsea.

When the dinner was over one of the guests decided to call in at Chelsea police station. What he told officers there prompted them to call on O’Donnell. They found his room splattered with blood, and his wife lying dead on the bed. She had been battered to death with a pair of tongs that still lay bloodstained on the floor.

Charles O’Donnell, the man who came to dinner and had too much to say, was tried at the Old Bailey in November 1876, and was hanged on Monday, December 11th, 1876, at Newgate Prison. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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