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Serial Killer Frederick Deeming

Updated on March 24, 2012

Frederick Bailey Deeming

It’s hard to imagine anyone being so despised, over 12,000 spectators would be on hand to watch their execution by hanging. But Frederick Bailey Deeming, one of Australia's most infamous serial killers, was. Deeming, born in London on July 30, 1853, was executed in Melbourne in April of 1892 for murdering two wives and four children. They crowd cheered when he was pronounced dead.

Authorities first began investigating his crimes a month earlier when police were called to 57 Andrew Street in Windsor, a Melbourne suburb. They had received a report about a terrible smell coming from the unoccupied dwelling. What they found caused several officers to vomit. Beneath the fireplace, embedded in cement, the decomposing body of a woman about 30 years old was unearthed. Her throat had been cut and she had been dead for about three months. Oddly, no sign of blood was found in the house.

The two investigating detectives assigned to the case were Detective Sergeants William Considine and Henry Cawsey. When they questioned the renting agent they discovered the house had been leased to a man named Druin. A few weeks earlier the agent had delivered some cement, a broom, trowel, closet pan and a spade to Druin. He described Druin as being around 35, fair with a reddish beard, large moustache and of medium height. He also noted Druin was a flashy dresser, spoke loudly and had an English accent.

Detective Cawsey


Considine and Cawsey had found part of a luggage ticket while searching the house. It was enough to trace Druin and his wife Emily’s arrival in Australia from the United Kingdom on Dec. 9, 1891 aboard a passenger ship. But the ship’s manifest identified him as Albert Williams.

Further investigation of other passengers found they had no problem remembering the loud, boisterous man who had bored most of them to tears with his constant bragging and tall tales of his obvious fictitious adventures. The crew hadn’t been too impressed with him either, as he had accused them of stealing his valuables. The detectives now had reason to believe the body dug up beneath the fireplace was that of Emily Williams. A nationwide alert was issued.

When the news broke about Emily Williams' death, many who had known her somberly attended her funeral in which she was given a pauper’s burial.

Meanwhile, a coastal shipping company employee told police he had seen a man matching the description of Williams’, board a vessel January 23 sailing from Melbourne to Western Australia. However, he was now using the alias Baron Swanston. The Australian authorities were immediately notified.

Baron Swanston


Marie James

Baron Swanston wasn't hard to find as many couldn’t help but remember the offensive swashbuckling braggart. He was tracked down to the small mining settlement of Southern Cross, in the western Australian gold fields. He was working as an engineer at Fraser Gold Mine. He was immediately arrested and jailed, all the while protesting his innocence and proclaiming he had never been to Windsor.

The headline "Windsor Murderer Arrested,” flashed across the country, but by this time Considine and Cawsey had discovered the murder’s real name…Frederick Bailey Deeming. He had arrived from England in 1881.

He had opened a gas fitting shop in Sydney and living with Marie, his English wife, in the suburb of Petersham along with their two baby daughters. When his shop mysteriously burned to the ground and the insurance money wasn’t enough to pay the bills, Deeming turned to petty theft.

Neighbors recalled Marie’s description was nothing like the deceased Emily found dead in Windsor. She was, older, shorter and had a much darker complexion. It appeared that there had been two Mrs. Deemings. Considine and Cawsey were now tasked with finding the missing Mrs. Deeming and her children.

A discarded dinner invitation hosted by Albert Williams found at the crime scene led the police to the Commercial Hotel, 14 kilometers east of Liverpool. Considine and Cawsey contacted the Lancashire police asking them to find Williams for questioning. They didn’t find him, but did locate a Mrs. Mather...the mother of the dead Emily Williams-Deeming found in Windsor. She collapsed when informed of her daughter's death, but once she regained her composure she was able to shed some light on the elusive Deeming.

Mrs. Mather explained her daughter had met a “Mr. Williams” who fit Deeming's description, when he arrived in their small village of Rainhill in Oct. 1891. The mother wasn’t too keen on her daughter taking up with him. There was something odd about the man, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

He rented a house at Dineham Villa, supposedly for his employer, a Colonel Brooks in India who was allegedly to arrive shortly. While waiting for his employer to arrive, which he never did, Williams was living high on the hog at the luxurious Commercial Hotel. Each night he would “entertain” patrons at the hotel's bar, drinking and telling whoppers.

Deeming, aka Williams, married Emily in September of 1891. But, before they departed for their honeymoon in Australia, the free spending Williams held a lavish reception. The mountain of bills he left in Rainhill and London were never paid.

After their departure, Rainhill authorities received reports about the possibility of a missing family. There had been a woman with a young girl and boy living at Dineham Villa who neighbors said had simply vanished. Liverpool police, who were better equipped to handle such cases, were notified. When they broke into the dwelling they were confronted with the unmistakable odor of death.

Under the hearthstones they found the decomposing bodies of a woman and two children wrapped in oilcloth. Further investigation turned up another two children embedded in cement. One was an infant and the other a small nine year old girl lying at the woman's feet. The woman and girl had been strangled while the others had their throats cut. Police also found a book in which the name Deeming had been crossed out and Williams added. There was little doubt Williams and Deeming were one and the same.

Relatives in Liverpool identified the bodies as Marie James, the wife of Frederick Deeming and their children. He had brought them back from Australia a few months earlier. He had married Marie in England in 1881.

The family said as a young man Frederick had travelled extensively as a ship's purser. In the mid 1880s the Deeming family had spent some time in South Africa. They returned to England in 1890 and briefly stayed with his brothers. Then the Deeming’s disappeared, apparently to Rainhill, where he kept his wife and kids secluded while he played the eligible bachelor.

The pieces of the puzzle were coming together. It became clear Deeming met Emily and then cold-bloodedly murdered his wife and four young children. He then married Emily Mather and took her to Australia, where it appeared he had murdered her too.

Deeming was arrested and escorted on a train from Southern Cross to Perth, for an extradition hearing. The hearing would return him to Victoria to be tried for the Windsor murder.

When Deeming arrived in the small town of York, he was met by a glaring crowd of onlookers who had nothing but contempt for the man who had slaughtered his entire family and a second wife. The train continued on to Perth with Deeming giving the angry mob a sarcastic departing smile.

An even larger crowd was waiting at Perth. Fearing vigilante justice, instead of disembarking at Perth, the train stopped at nearby Lord St. Crossing. Deeming was taken off and taken to the Waterside Lockup to await an extradition hearing scheduled for March 24, 1892, in the Perth Police Court.

Deeming's lawyer desperately fought extradition on the grounds his client could not have a fair trial in Melbourne, pointing at the furious mob outside the courthouse. The extradition order was granted.

On March 27, 1892, Deeming, Detective Cawsey and three armed police officers, boarded a train bound for Albany in southwest Australia to rendezvous with a ship heading for Melbourne. When the train stopped for coal and water at York, they were once again met by a large angry crowd shouting "Lynch him,” "drag him out," and "pull him to pieces with bullocks.” One of the windows was shattered and as the throng pressed forward the coach rocked back and forth. Fearing a mob lynching, Deeming begged the police to protect him.

At the next stop in the small town of Beverley, the scene was basically a repeat. Deeming was smuggled off the train and into a room. When the horde of furious citizens discovered where he was they threatened to bash the door down. Deeming was secreted back aboard the train.

The train next stopped at Albany, this time a short distance from Albany's prison. The prisoner was then turned over to the Prison Governor.

Deeming was kept under constant surveillance in case he tried to harm himself. The guards were surprised the next morning to find their prisoner was missing his most distinctive feature, his large moustache…an amazing feat since he had no razor. Curious as to how he had managed the job the guards searched his prison uniform and found a small shard from a broken glass bottle. But even with the piece of glass Deeming had to pluck most of the hairs out by their roots. It was assumed by Cawsey, Deeming had removed his moustache to change his appearance, thus causing any witnesses to later doubt their identification of him.

Two days later as the ship dropped anchor at Larges Bay in South Australia a large aggressive crowd had already formed. Plans were changed to continue on to Melbourne. The ship arrived at Port Phillip Bay on April 2, 1892 and Deeming was hustled off to Police Court. He was formally charged with the murder of Emily Williams under the name of Albert Williams.

The trial of Frederick Bailey Deeming’s trial began in Melbourne one month later. His defense tried proving he was innocent on the grounds of insanity. Six doctors repeatedly examined Deeming; but not one could honestly state he was insane. However, the physicians did say he was an epileptic and had venereal disease which may have impaired his mind. The trial lasted four days and Deeming played his role of being insane to the hilt. He claimed his dead mother had told him to kill Emily and sometimes he had an irresistible impulse to kill.

The prison physician, said, "I have frequently conversed with him but cannot believe anything he says." On the subject of whether the accused knew the difference between right and wrong, Shield said Deeming told him, "That stealing for example, was a matter of conscience. Murder was also permissible in certain circumstances." He also said Deeming had told him several times he had gone searching for women who had may given him the STD with a gun, intending to kill them.

Ignoring his counsel’s advice, Deeming took the stand. First, he denied Emily was actually dead. Then his insatiable ego took over. He began to boast of his exploits. In the end, everyone saw not a madman but a sane individual who was so full of himself he filibustered nearly an hour blaming everyone and everything. When he stopped speaking, he looked around and saw there was not one sympathetic face in the house. He knew his fate had been sealed.


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    • profile image

      Sarah Stephen 

      6 years ago

      I grew up in rainhill at 13 me & my mates used to break into dineham villa through a window at the back of the house into what looked like a dinning room (there was still furniture there)you coundnt go in any of the other down stairs rooms because of the rubble and wood everywhere but you could still go upstairs but if you werent carefull your feet would go right threw the floor.The bedrooms and landing had like broken furniture and ornaments everywerere it was a mess,but what freaked me out was that half way up the stairs there was a cupboad and if you crawed through you ended up in this little room like a workshop with tools hanging on the wall unlike the rest of the house it was really tidy like everything was in its wrigtfull place,a few years later the house was knocked down with all that stuff still in it,i had taken some dinna plates when i used to hang out in there,i still have them now.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I think he was squirrel bait.

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 

      6 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      It's beyond me how anyone can kill their own children and/or spouse.

      This brought to mind the woman who took her own small daughter out to a lake/swamp and drowned her because she said she was afraid for her child concerning child molesters and just wanted to protect her from them.

      I still am surprised when I hear these things.


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