With the white hair and pink eyes of an albino, 25-year-old Joseph Rose was always a distinctive figure. And on OCTOBER 18th, 1918, his appearance was even more eye-catching: his face was covered with blood, which was also trickling from a wound in his throat as he staggered down a lane at Shaw-cum-Donnington, near Newbury.
When two men went to his assistance they couldn’t understand what he was attempting to say. He seemed to want them to look in a nearby hedge, and when they did so they found the bodies of his 19-year-old cousin Sarah Rose and her baby daughter Isabella. Their throats had both been cut.
After he had received medical attention and was able to speak, Rose told the police that Sarah was both his cousin and his common-law wife, and he was Isabella’s father. He said they lived with Sarah’s family in tents at Enbourne, and they had been walking to Newbury and had stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. Then a man known to Sarah as “Henry” had suddenly appeared and attacked them.
The police didn’t believe his story. They thought his throat-wound was self-inflicted and he was charged with murder.
According to Sarah’s father, the couple had been on good terms when they set out for Newbury. But at Rose’s trial another witness, Daisy Black, said she had seen the pair arguing at about 11.30 a.m. on the day of the murders, and she saw Rose strike Sarah in the face.
Found guilty and sentenced to death, Rose was hanged at Oxford Prison on February 19th, 1919.