Mrs. Annie Holmes, 38, was delighted when she received a bottle of tonic through the post. She took several spoonfuls and next day she was dead.

Two weeks later her body was exhumed after persistent rumours that she hadn’t died of natural causes. Traces of strychnine were found in the body, and the man who sent her the tonic, Walter Horsford, 26, of St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, was promptly arrested.

The motive, it was suggested when he was brought to trial at Huntingdon Assizes in January 1898, was that Horsford, a married man, and Annie, who was his cousin, were lovers, and she had become pregnant. Although he vehemently denied murdering her, Horsford was convicted and hanged on Tuesday, JUNE 28th, 1898, at Cambridge Prison.

Later it was revealed that he wrote to his wife and the prison governor confessing the murder, and adding that he had murdered another girl, named Fanny James, eight years earlier. Horsford had sent her a tonic through the post, too, and when she died the inquest verdict was “Death through eating a hearty supper.”