Recently discharged from hospital, Jane Beadmore, 27, went to buy some sweets to take with her medicine on September 22nd, 1888, and failed to return home. A search party was organised at dawn, and her body was found near a railway line at Birtley Fell, Gateshead.

Jane had been stabbed three times in the breasts, but additionally, as The Times put it: “The injury to the lower body had been terribly cruel.” Effectively she had been disembowelled.

At the time the whole country was in the grip of the Jack the Ripper murders. Was this another Ripper killing, everyone wondered? Had the beast of Whitechapel moved north to Durham? All was revealed when William Waddell, a 22-year-old Gateshead factory worker, was arrested and charged with Jane’s murder.

Waddell, it seemed, had been going out with Jane, but she had refused his intimate advances. On the night he killed her she had been complaining about his drunkenness. Once he realised that she was dead, he said, he decided to make it look like a “Ripper” killing.

A defence of manslaughter was rejected and he was hanged on Tuesday, December 18th, 1888, at Durham Prison. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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