A 130-year-old murder mystery was finally solved on Tuesday, when English TV presenter David Attenborough made an interesting discovery at the bottom of his garden.
Attenborough (pictured), whose brother Richard played a man obsessed with dinosaur bones in Jurassic Park, made a very real archaeological find on his grounds, a boiled human skull.
Using the latest forensic technology, investigators have confirmed the identity of the unfortunate victim as Julia Martha Thomas, who was murdered by her maid Kate Webster (see picture insert) in 1879.
According to Webster, who was convicted and hanged for the crime in the same year, the murder came after a furious argument resulting in the maid pushing Mrs Thomas down the stairs, where she was badly injured. Fearing the consequences, she decided to finish her off with an axe and get rid of the body.
Using a meat saw, a razor and a kitchen knife, she dismembered the body, before boiling it in a huge copper pot to destroy the evidence.
She is said to have given away the drippings from the corpse to local children claiming it to be pigs’ lard. She stuffed the rest in a wooden box and with help from an unwitting neighbour carried it to the river Thames where is was thrown in.
Webster then assumed Mrs Thomas’ identity and tried to flee to Ireland with the twice-widowed woman’s money, but after the box was found containing “a mass of white flesh” the police were quickly in pursuit and soon arrested her.
For an unknown reason Webster kept the head of her victim in a bag she carried with her for a few days after the crime, before burying it under the old pub, which is now on Mr Attenborough’s estate, where it lay for the next 130 years, until workmen made the gruesome discovery.
Attenborough discovery solves 130-year murder mystery