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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: True life British murder mystery

Updated on October 28, 2015
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher | Source

A true and chilling murder mystery from Victorian England

This mysterious book is an absolute treat. Yes, we have a true murder mystery but it also reveals a great deal about Victorian society, its morals and the detective work of the time.

Was the murder at Road Hill House solved?

Ah, there's the question and part of the intrigue in this fascinating account. A small child from a respectable and wealthy background was brutally murdered in his family home in a small village in the south of England. He had been taken from his bed in the middle of the night and killed in an outhouse in the garden. The murder was brutal.

The local police in this rural area couldn't cope with this horrible crime - they were dreadfully inadequate - and Detective Whicher of Scotland Yard was sent for and put in charge of the investigation. The local police had also bungled a crucially important piece of evidence...

The suspects

There were many people who could have committed the crime:

  • The victim's father
  • His second wife; previously his mistress
  • The child's nursemaid
  • The victim's half-brother and half-sister who lived in the house, both teenagers
  • Two adult half-sisters of the victim
  • The live-in housemaid
  • The live-in cook
  • Six live-out servants
  • The villagers

Or it could have been total stranger. But what motive could there be for the murder of a small child? And remember that the child was taken from his bed. Whoever the murderer was must have had access to the interior of the house.

The arrests

I really want you to enjoy this book as a murder mystery as well as a fascinating history so you'll be getting no spoilers from me.

But an arrest was made just days after the murder. The suspect was released however. Just two weeks after the murder, another arrest was made.

This time Detective Whicher was certain that they had the perpetrator under lock and key. But the magistrates, the newspapers and public opinion disagreed.

The second suspect was also released. Whicher was adamant in his belief however and with no further evidence or suspects, he gave up the case; his reputation in tatters.

A surprise confession

Five years after the murder the second suspect, the one that Whicher had been certain was the murderer, confessed and was duly tried and sentenced to life imprisonment; the time served was twenty years. On release, with a changed name, the murderer emigrated to Australia and died there at the age of one hundred.

But was the right person imprisoned?

At the time of the trial, and even to this day, there was speculation that the supposed killer had confessed to protect another person.

Even though the assumed murderer lived to be a hundred years old, there was no confession or suggestion that this was the case.

But new evidence is still being discovered...

You can see more details in the video below. At this stage the detective Mr Whicher has several suspects but his main problem is that he feels that the local, rural police have given the murderer to opportunity to dispose of any evidence.

The local police however are resentful of his presence - they feel that they are perfectly capable of solving the crime and are most unwilling to help the outsider who is interfering into what they see as a completely local matter. Could the local police have solved this crime?

The above video was taken from a British television broadcast.

Mr Whicher is enjoying a huge revival in the UK at the moment and the story is of more interest now than it has been for many years.

A film has been made which is available on DVD but is ONLY available in UK format. You can see it on the right.

As soon as it's available for other areas, you can be sure that I'll add it to this page.

© 2013 Jackie Jackson


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