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The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1888. MYSTERIES OF CRIME.

The recent horrible murders m London form but another of those mysteries of crime of which there is a long dark record. We refer of course to that wholesale butchering of women which has created so world-wide a senßation, and which seems to have completely bailed the skill of the entire detective force of Fcotland Yard, But while this series of outrages stands out with a lurid distinctness because of their peculiar atrocity, it forms only one of many such mysteries of crime of which files by the mail are unusually full — tragedies some of them every whit as mysterious though perhaps scarcely so sensational For example, there is the mystery of an empty house m a fashionable part of Southport which has sent a thrill through that locality. As some ladies were going through the house m question with the intention of taking it, they discovered a discoloration of one of the ceilings, which led to an examination with a view to asoertain the cause. This proved to bo the percolation of blood from the corpse of a little boy which was found on the floor of the atlic above m a ' putretying condition, having evidently been lying where it wag found for several dayß. The door of the room was locked but the key was missing. The house had been untenanted for six weeks, and the keys of I the front and back doors were m the possession of a respectable firm of house agents, and a woman to whom no suspicion attaches. The boy whose remains were found, named William Tillyer Rhodes, aged 9 years, had been missing for several days, having been last seen at the swings m Heskoth Park, Southport, jand had been advertised for without result. How the poor little fellow came to be where his body was found is a mystery, as he could only have gos intp the house by climbing to a window and getting through a broken pane of glass, and even had he done co, it is unreasonable fp suppose that ho would have locked himself into the attic and uoado away with the key. Ho reasonable explanation of tine mystery is forthcoming, and the suspicion naturally is that the poor little fellow was decoyed to thjo place by some person who gain.od entrance to the house by the use of false keys— &nd bepame $he TJctira of foul pl»y.

Another strange story of crime which for a long time appeared likely to remain wrapped m mystery comes from Madrid. A lady, about 55 years of age, was found lying on her bed stabbed to death, the body charred and disfigured by fire, the assassin having heaped tho clothes over it and saturated them w ith petroleum, ihe fire had died out leaving intact the chest and neck, which bore the marka of the stabs. The victim was a widow possessing considerable property m Cuba [and Bpain, who lived m modest style with only one servant, Higiniaßalaguer; her son, a joung man of 24, named Varela, who had been leading a dissipated life, being m gaol undergoing a sentence of three months' imprisonment. Jn the room where the crime had been committed nothing had been touched or disturbed. Only a careful investigation showed that bloodstains on the floor and furniture had been wnshejd away. In the course ot his search, the judge was not a little amazed to d ; sc6ver m the kitchen a servant, the only attendant of the murdered lady, and a bulldog. The latter was evidently laboring under the effects of a strong narcotic. The servant was coolly lying on the floor of the kitchen next to the dog, and at first pretended that she had neither witnessed the crime nor heard the authorities knocking at the door of her mistress. She was pui m prison, and has been the cause of great perplexity and embarrassment to the Crown Officers. For* a whole fortnight she distracted them with pretended disclosures and confessions incriminating three women and five men, who were arrested. The judge had to examine more than 100 witnesses, whose sworn evidence covered 5000 pages. Higinia made no less than three diHtiuct statements, which she successively retracted or modified. One day she surprised the 'udgo with a statement, m which she charged the son of the murdered lady, the prisoner m the Madrid gaol, with having been the principal actor m this terrible affair. To this statement she has stuck with extraordinary tenacity, giving the minutest aud most plausible details of the crime. She declared when she was brought up and confronted with Varela, that he had assassinated his mother, stolen the bank notes, and then threatened her with the same fate if she did not accept 1000 pesetas as the first instalment ot the price for her silence. She went on to explain how the murderer, who had two accomplices, sent her out to buy the petroleum, with which tho body was to be burned by his order after ho loft the house at 10.45 p.m., a quarter of an hour before the porter closed the front door and put the gas out. When asked why she had not made a clean breast of all this sooner, Higina declared that she had been m duced to make her first statements by the governor of the prison. He wished to conceal the fact that he had let Varela out on July 1, as he had done many a time before. This singular confession of theonly witness of the crime immediately led to the ajrest of the governor. Alter five days' detention he was set at liberty, but not allowed to resume his duties pending further investigation. The governor and almost all the prison officials, and many prisoners, were found ready to swear that Varela had not left the cell on tho night of July 1, nor on any other occasion. Eventually, however, the truth came out. Several persons swore that they had seen Varela m cafes, and m tho street on different occa sions since the day on which ho entered the prison to undergo his three months' detention for tho robbery of a coat m April, 1888. Finally one of the prison officials determined to save himself by turning informer. He saw the judge, and made a clean breast of all ho knew. Then it was discovered that, like other prisoners, Jose Varela went m and out of His Majesty's prison by day and night m disguise or m plain clothes by the ordinary door or by a side passage through the political department. He had been out all the afternoon and night of July 1, and he returned to prison at 4 a.m. on July 2 m a state of semi-intoxication, though he had been allowed to have as a companion one of the prison officials, It was also learned from the official *who made this confession that Varela on returning to prison half intoxicated had told one fellow- prisoner who was sweeping bis cell, that his mother was badly hurt, and not likely to live long. To another person m the prison on the same night he had distinctly declared that he had been mad enough to kill his mother. The judge at once ordered Varela and the other prisoners arrested on suspicion of being his accomplices, to be transferred to cells of close confinement, and he issued warrants for the apprehension of seven warders and officials on duty on July 1 and 2 ,and for tho arrest of the ex-governor. He has since released all the person g accused by the servant and by the officials of the prison, who turned informers after having sworn a lew weeks ago that they knew and had seen absolutely nothing. Higinia Balaguer and toio friends of hers, who are charged with having taken an active part m the crime are kept m prison, and Varela and the ex-governor of the gaol have been sent for trial.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18881020.2.4

Bibliographic details

The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1888. MYSTERIES OF CRIME., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1975, 20 October 1888

Word Count
1,347

The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1888. MYSTERIES OF CRIME. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1975, 20 October 1888

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