As George Joseph Smith’s landlady busied herself at her boarding-house she heard him playing “Nearer My God to Thee” on the harmonium in the sitting-room. It was an apt choice of hymn. His latest murder victim lay dead in the bath.

The first was Beatrice Mundy, who he married bigamously for her £2,500 bank balance, which became his after she was found dead in the bath at their Herne Bay home on JULY 13th, 1912.

Smith’s next “wife,” Alice Burnham, suffered the same fate at their Blackpool lodgings on December 12th, 1913. Consoling himself with Alice’s £500 life insurance, Smith moved on to “marry” Margaret Lofty after she had insured her life for £700. That sealed her fate as his third “Bride in the Bath” victim, but it also took Smith to the gallows.

After Margaret was found dead in the bath at the couple’s lodgings in Highgate, London, on December 18th, 1914, reports of her tragic death the day after her wedding were read by Alice Burnham’s father. Struck by the case’s similarity to the fate of his daughter, he alerted the police.

Smith was arrested for bigamy and then charged with murder as the investigation proceeded. In June 1915 he was tried at the Old Bailey for Beatrice Mundy’s murder, his counsel failing to exclude evidence of the deaths of Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty.

“Death by misadventure” had been the verdict at all three brides’ inquests, but the pathologist Dr. Bernard Spilsbury showed that none of them could have died accidentally. Each had been forcibly drowned, probably by Smith simply lifting the victim’s legs and pressing on her head so that it slid under the water.

The jury took only 22 minutes to decide that George Joseph Smith was guilty. Sentencing him to death, Mr. Justice Scrutton told him: “Judges sometimes use this occasion to warn the public against the repetition of such crimes; they sometimes use such occasions to exhort the prisoner to repentance. I propose to take neither of those courses. I do not believe there is another man in England who needs to be warned against the commission of such a crime, and I think that exhortation to repentance would be wasted on you.”

Smith’s execution followed at Maidstone Prison on August 13th, 1915.