“There’s blood everywhere and brains scattered about,” a young apprentice told the police when he called them to a murder scene in The Crescent, York on Friday, December 30th, 1904. The apprentice, worried about the non-appearance of the old couple who lived next door to his workshop, had gone to investigate and found retired railway engineer William Hewitt and his wife Isabella lying on the floor, battered almost beyond recognition.

The police discovered that a few weeks previously there had been a violent dispute over money between the Hewitts and their adopted son Harry, who lived elsewhere. While officers were guarding the cottage the night after the murder, Harry Hewitt suddenly appeared out of the darkness.

“What do you want here?” he was asked by a policeman.

“I’m just looking around,” he replied.

He was handcuffed and marched off to the police station. When he was charged before the magistrates he was described by a reporter as having a “Wild West” look, with roughly combed hair and great growths of bedraggled beard. On virtually non-existent evidence he was sent to the assizes where the judge summed-up in his favour and the jury found him not guilty.

The police, though, never reopened the case. They considered that they had already caught the killer.