The remains of a skull identified as that of a murder victim from the late 1800s was found in the backyard of London TV personality David Attenborough.
The skull is said to have belonged to Julia Martha Thomas, 55, who died in 1879 after her maid attacked her. It was reported that Kate Webster pushed Thomas down the stairs, and then strangled her, chopped up the body, boiled it and fed it to local children. The case was taken to the court, and after an hour of deliberation, Webster was hung and executed.
The whereabouts of the skull remained unknown until October of last year when workmen discovered it at TV naturalist David Attenborough’s £1.5 million home where they were building an extension in the backyard. Thomas is said to have lived in the same area where Attenborough currently lives, on a road in Richmond, south west London.
Two months before the murder, Thomas hired the drunkard who spent her life in and out of prison for offenses, including burglary. On March 22, 1879, Thomas arrived home after church, and it was then that she got into a fight with Webster. Thomas was pushed down the stairs.
“Realizing she had injured her she proceeded to strangle her to stop her from screaming and getting her in trouble. Webster decided to do away with the body and used a razor to chop off the head. Having decapitated her she used a razor, a meat saw and a carving knife to cut the body up,” acting Detective Inspector David Bolton told the coroner.
“The dismembered body was put into a copper laundry vessel and she proceeded to boil up the body parts of Thomas,” he said.
"A few days after the murder some boys said that Kate Webster had offered them some food and said ‘ere you lads I’ve got some good pigs lard which you can have for free’. The boys ate two bowls of lard which was unfortunately Mrs Thomas."
The West London Coroner Alison Thompson formally acknowledged the skull as that of Julia Martha Thomas earlier this week, more than a century after the murder, reported the Daily Mail.
Police were able to provide convincing evidence to prove that the skull was that of the victim, after reviewing records of the murder, along with census records and radiocarbon testing. The tests showed it belonged to a white female of approximately menopausal age, missing its teeth.
Coroner Alison Thompson recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and listed asphyxiation and head injury as the cause of death.
More than a century later, Julia Martha Thomas’ skull can now be given its proper burial and the case can be put to rest.