When Joseph Hefferman returned to his lodgings in Mullingar, County Westmeath, late on the evening of JULY 8th, 1909, he told his landlady he had seen a girl murdered near a canal bridge. As he was drunk, his landlady didn’t take him seriously. But when he was asked to fit a broom handle the next morning the pocket knife he produced was seen to be bloodstained.
It was then learned that Mary Walker, a telegraphist at Mullingar post office, had been found murdered. Earlier that year she had got Hefferman a job at the post office, but it hadn’t worked out. The 27-year-old farm labourer had recently been sacked, and he had also failed to develop his relationship with Mary into something more than friendship.
After leaving the post office on the evening of July 8th, Mary had failed to return to her lodgings. Her worried landlady had sent her son to look for her, and at 11 p.m. he had found her body on a canal bank.
Mary’s throat had been slashed, and on hearing of this Hefferman’s landlady went to the police. He matched the description of a man seen arguing with Mary shortly before her death, and he was charged with her murder.
At his trial his insanity plea was rejected. Convicted and sentenced to death, he was hanged in Dublin on January 4th, 1910.