The Brides in the Bath Case
Two weeks before Christmas 1913, newlyweds George Joseph Smith and his wife Alice came to live in a paying guest house in Blackpool, England. The owner of the building was Joseph Crossley, and his wife, Margaret, was not at all aware of their new occupant. At first Margaret found George Smith rude, arrogant, and mean. They also noticed that he was angry with his wife for not being enough.
At 8 p.m. on Friday, December 12, Alice Smith said she needed a shower, so she lit the gas and drew the curtains in the first-floor bathroom directly above the kitchen. While Alice bathed, Joseph and Margaret began to prepare dinner.
While they were cooking food in the kitchen, they noticed a patch on the ceiling of the kitchen directly above. At that time Mr. with a paper bag in his hand. Smith came in. He looked a mess. Smith complained to his landlord about overfilling the bathtub after seeing the water on the ceiling, and informed him that he had gone out to buy eggs for tomorrow morning’s meal.
Smith then went upstairs, and a short time later appeared on the landing of the stair case.
“Call the doctor,” he shouted to Margaret.
Alice Smith was found dead in the bathtub when the doctor arrived. Margaret was so upset after this one incident that she arranged for Smith to stay at a neighbor’s house for the day. The next day, she was disgusted by Smith, who came drunk and disturbed her by playing the piano.
However, the police quickly held an inquest and reported that Alice had drowned while bathing.
Although Smith would receive £600 (72 lakh Indian rupees at today’s rate -[ https://www.officialdata.org/uk/inflation/1913?amount=600] ) from Alice’s estate, he had a simple funeral.
Unable to keep him any longer, the couple kicked Smith out of their cottage. As he leaves, Margaret calls him “Crippen.” [Crippen: Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was the notorious American-born, English-immigrated doctor who killed his wife and was eventually hanged. ]
Days passed. A year later, Joseph Closey was reading a newspaper when he saw a news item. Its title was as follows. “The tragic fate of the bride on the day of the honeymoon”
The summary of the news was how the new bride of John Lloyd (John Lloyd) who was celebrating the honeymoon in Highgate, North London, was found dead in the bathroom.
In this case, the bride’s husband had gone out to buy tomatoes when his wife drowned in the bathroom bathtub. Mr. went to buy tomatoes. Lloyd told the landlord.
The resemblance to the death in his home in December 1913 immediately raised suspicions for Joseph Clossey. He wrote to the Metropolitan Police showing all this information.
The police seemed to have the heart of the story. They started an investigation. Detective Arthur Neil was in charge of investigating the case.
Like Joseph Closley, Neal was convinced that the two cases were connected, and that the husband in both cases was the same. Soon all the information about Smith or Lloyd from all over the country in the previous years was collected and collated.
Inspector Neal went to the building at 14 Bismarck Road where Margaret Lloyd had died. It was doubtful how someone like Margaret could drown in such a small bathtub.
The next step was to see the coroner, Dr. Bates, who issued the death certificate. The doctor confirmed that Margaret had no other injuries apart from a small bruise above the left knee. (Readers note that the dead Margaret and the landlady Margaret are two people.)
Neil discovered something else. Hours before Margaret died, her husband John Lloyd had made a will. And Margaret had withdrawn all her savings that very day.
On January 12, Neil receives a phone call from Dr. Bates. The doctor called to say that the Yorkshire insurance company had inquired about Margaret’s cause of death. Margaret was insured for £700, and John the heir. The amount is equivalent to about 85 lakh Indian rupees today. Inspector Neal’s reply was to delay his reply.
Inspector Neil contacted Blackpool Police. It was learned that Alice Smith had taken out insurance for £600 before she died and that Smith took it after her death. In two cases, Neil found that insurance money was the motive. He decided to arrest the accused and investigate the rest.
Inspector Neil instructed the doctor to give a report confirming drowning. Yorkshire Insurance Company’s solicitor’s office was put under constant surveillance. Every move of the lawyer was being monitored round the clock. Finally, on February 1, 1915, the man appeared. A person who fits Lloyd’s attributes. Neil’s hands caught him.
“Mr. Lloyd, Mr. I seek. Are you Smith?”
The answer was no. When informed that Lloyd was being sued for polygamy, Lloyd admitted that Smith was him.
But how can the two dead women drown in such a small bathtub? That was the first problem before Neil.
Bernard Spilsbury was a world famous pathologist at that time. At the beginning of this story is Margaret Crosley, wife of Joseph Crosley; It was mentioned that Smith was called “Crippen”, the same Crippen case that made Bernard Spilsberry famous. It may be for a reason that the same name “Crippen” was on the tongue of Margaret Crossley, quite coincidentally. However, he was appointed to investigate the case. At that time, he was conducting his own practice and experiments, but he provided necessary assistance to the police force when needed.
Spilsbury’s first task was to ensure that the drowning was safe. If drowning, was it accidental or forceful? He noted a small bruise and two light scratches on the elbow. Even the evidence of drowning was not obvious. No cardiac or circulatory problems were observed. But the evidence suggests that death was instantaneous. The victim died due to sudden shock. It was determined that it could not be poisonous. Spilsberry asked Neal to dispel that doubt. And Spilsbury told Neal to do some experiments in that bathtub itself.
At that time, newspaper reports began to appear such as “deaths of brides in bathrooms”.
On February 8, the chief police officer of Herne Bay, a small seaside resort in Kent, read the stories in question and sent Neal a report of another death similar to these two deaths.
Neil studied that case. It was like this.
A year before Alice’s death in Blackpool, a man named Henry Williams rented a house on the High Street with no bathtub in the bathroom. It was for him and his wife, Bessie Williams, called Beatrice Mundy. Their marriage was in 1910. After 7 weeks of moving in, the husband, Henty, rented a bathtub. A few days later, Henty took his wife to a nearby doctor, Frank French, saying that his wife had a seizure. But the wife only had to say about the headache. So the doctor prescribed some medicines for it.
On July 12, 1912, Henty woke up Dr. French and informed him that his wife had had another seizure. Then the doctor said that he could come the next day as the time was running out. But the next morning, Williams informed the doctor that his wife had died, and the doctor was surprised to hear it.
She was seen in the bathtub. Her head was under water. His feet were hanging out of the water. There were no signs of violence. That’s why Dr. French ruled it a drowning. The doctor reported the same to the police. Bessie had made a will 5 days before she drowned, which gave her husband Henty Williams £2,500. (Note that £2,500 110 years ago is the equivalent of £3 crore today; note that the person who received £3 crore in 1912 did the next in December 1913.)
Neal sent Smith’s photographs to Herne Bay to identify the man, and they identified him. Henty and Smith are one and the same.
The next step was to conduct an autopsy on Spilsbury Alice at Blackpool. As suspected, Margaret Lloyd had no physical symptoms other than minor bruising and abrasions. The evidence was difficult as it had been some time since the death. There were no traces of poison.
Spilsberry was confused. How could these deaths have happened? The measurements of the body were taken and the bathtub was sent to London for further examination.
(Which of the following is true is up to the reader to decide – for the records show that) Bessie Williams was next examined by Spilsberry and that examination revealed Goose Pimples on Bessie’s thigh. Goose pimples are bumps that appear on some hairy parts of the body when there is severe cold, tingling or intense emotion. But the date of this autopsy is after February 1, 1915, because that is when Smith is arrested, and Bessie dies on July 12, 1912, which means that the autopsy takes place two and a half years later. Only if the corpse is kept from decomposing can a mark remain on the skin for so long. It can also be said that it is so subtle that it is improbable. So in this case the authors may have written about the last dead Alice due to the similarity between the names. The point is that people don’t care about names. )
Then that bathtub was also sent to London.
For weeks Spilsbury examined the bathtubs and the dimensions of the young victims. Bessie Williams was 5 feet 7 inches tall and the bathtub she died in was only 5 feet long. Also, because of her epilepsy, her body rises above the water in the first stage, and in the next stage, she will probably fall out of the tub, but she will not drown in the tub at this height.
Spilsbury meets with Dr. French who finds Bessie lying dead. According to him, Bessie’s feet were outside the bathtub. Spilsbury discovered a new theory, namely: Henty may have held Bessie up by her feet while she was bathing, so that her head would be under the water. He defined that when doing this, the water enters the nose and mouth forcefully and may cause sudden loss of consciousness and this may be the reason for drowning without injury.
|The murdered bride||year||Husband’s Name|
|1||Bessie Williams (Bessie Williams)||12 July 1912||Henry Williams|
|2||Margaret Lloyd||December 1913||John Lloyd|
|3||Alice Smith||December 1914||Joseph Smith (Joseph Smith)|
On this occasion Inspector Neal brought several female divers into a building of the same size. There was a similar bathtub. After filling it with water, the experimenter forced them into the bathtub and watched. Any normal attack would have caused them some sort of injury.
All of Neal’s appointees were professional, knowledgeable and convinced of the case. So there were no accidents. In the next phase of the experiment, Neal pulled a woman by the leg while she was relaxing in a bathtub. Before the woman knew what had happened, her head went underwater. Neal suddenly saw that the woman was not moving. He immediately got her out of the tub, and it took him and a doctor more than half an hour to regain consciousness. When she regained consciousness, she said that she only remembered the rush of water before losing consciousness. Thus Spilsbury’s theory was confirmed. Investigators learned that Smith had killed all three women in the same manner.
On March 23, 1915, George Joseph Smith was formally charged with the murders of Bessie Williams, Alice Smith, and Margaret Lloyd.
The trial began at the Old Bailey on 22 June. Although under English law he could only be tried for Bessie Mundy’s murder, the prosecution used the deaths of two others to establish a pattern of Smith’s crimes.
The bathtub used in Bessie’s murder was then set up to convince the court of Spilsbury’s theory, and the pathologist prepared to prove how Smith had drowned his ‘brides’. But how can a young model appear in front of everyone in an English court in a bathing costume for a demonstration! So the jury was taken to a private room where a bathtub was filled with water. The young swimmer reclined in the bathtub as one does when taking a bath. Dr. Spilsbury suddenly raised her legs, and instantly the water rushed up her nose and mouth. It was very accurate. She lost consciousness. She had to be artificially resuscitated. She expected it because she had already been told that.
Despite all this, Smith maintained that he was not a murderer. The jury took more than twenty minutes to find Smith guilty. Confidence drained from his face. He was given death sentence. He seems to have thought that the Court of Appeal would overturn the verdict for lack of evidence; But it didn’t happen.
On the morning of his execution, George Joseph Smith was devastated when death stared him in the face. He was quickly led to the scaffold and hoisted into the trapdoor. There the hood put on his head. As the noose was placed around his neck, Smith cried out, “I am innocent!” Next moment: The body of the cruel and witch-witted man, who cheated others for his own profit and killed three innocent people with his bare hands, lay shivering on the gallows, and within minutes his earthly life ended.
1) There is much more to be written about George Joseph Smith’s past. Only the stories of the three murdered wives have been narrated above. Smith has had eight marriages. He has also committed many other crimes. Following are the names of Smith’s other wives.
- Caroline Thornhill (1898–1915)
- Florence Wilson (1908–15)
- Edith Peglar (1908–15)
- Sarah Freeman (1909–15)
- Bessie Mundy (1910–12)
- Alice Burnham (1913)
- Alice Reid (1914–15)
- Margaret Lofty (1914)
2) Tragically, due to the untimely death of his two sons and a ruined financial situation, Dr. Bernard Spilsbury committed suicide.
3) The Smith case is mentioned in Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery and The Murder on the Links. In addition to this, Smith’s case has been presented in hundreds of stories, plays, articles, radio and TV, or similar crimes – incidents etc. have been painted.