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"The Mystery of the Severed Hand."


At the meeting of the Catholic Club in Christchureh on Tuesday night, ex-Inspec-tor Pender related the details of what was at; the time known as " The Mystery of the Severed Hand," which caused so much public excitement in Christchurch, in the year 188S), Mr Pender was Inspector of Police at Christchurch at the time the events happened, <md directed the enquiries, which resulted in the conviction of the man Howard for conspiracy. The facts of the case are tolerably well known to many Clmstchurcb rosidents, but as a new generation has sprung up since rha affair occurred, tha main features may be recapitulated. Howard, an engineer living at Addirjgron, shortly after insuring for .£2400, disappeared. A eet of his clothes was found on the rocks at Sutnuer, and it was generally concluded that he bad been drowned while bathing. The Insurance Companies delayed paying over the insurance money to Mrs Howard pending enquiries which were being made by the police. Two suspicious fac^s were discovered by Inspector Pender, one being that Howard, while on his way to Sumner on the day he was supposed to have been drowned, was observed to bo wearing two waistsoats, and the other, that Mrs Howard exhibited none of the signs usually associated withthe death of a husband in a sudden or violeDt manner. Little further was discovered until one day two men, while visiting Taylor's Mistake met and conversed with another man, afterwards found to be Howard, although his identity was not discovered then. The man, on leaving them, remained for a little while at a particular spot on the beach, and while passing the same spot shortly afterwards, bhe other two men discovered a human hand, one finger of which was encircled with a ring belonging to Howard. The hand was identified by Mrs Howard as being her husband's, but it was afterwards proved to have been a woman's. Shortly afterwards Mrs Howard was arrested on a charge of conspiracy, together with the two men who had found the hand. Finally Howard himself was secured at Petone and the four were tried together at Christchurch, Howard being the only one convicted. Where the hand came from was never cleared up, bat Mr Pender gave a very probable explanation last night. Howard, it seemß, after leaving Sumner, went straight to Wellington by a boat leaving the same night, and proceeded inland as far as Masterton, where he assisted in an engineer's shop. He left suddenly one day, taking away with him a varnish tin similar to the one he was observed to be carrying when he spoke to the two men afterwards at Taylor's Mistake, and it was supposed that he had procured the. hand from a dead body at Masterton, and brought it down with him in the varnish tin. Thi3 theory is strengthened by the fact that while in Maeterton he sought the assistance of a friend to accompany him on a .'• resurrection " enterprise in the local cemetery. Mr Pender narrated tho facts witb groat detail, aud also described the steps taken by the police to elucidate the mystery.

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Bibliographic details

"The Mystery of the Severed Hand.", Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6595, 14 June 1905

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"The Mystery of the Severed Hand." Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6595, 14 June 1905

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