A child was found drowned in Everton in 1859 but with no reliable witnesses to his movements beforehand, the crime remained unsolved.
Around 930pm on the evening of 23rd July 1859 a man named James Fox fished the body of 4 year old John Thompson out of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal off Bankfield Street. He did this in the presence of Mary Gibbons, a 15 year old who was a servant to John's family and who did not recognise the body at first. She had been sent to the Rosehill Bridewell to report John's disappearance but inexplicably went towards Sandhills railway station instead.
When the inquest took place two days later Mary told how she had been looking for John in the street near his Conway Street home but couldn't find him. She couldn't explain why she went towards Sandhills instead of Rosehill. A 9 year old boy named Charles Hill told how he had been playing in Conway Street when woman named Esther Latham picked John up and took him away despite his crying. Charles said she ran towards Great Homer Street and as he was unable to find policeman, he went and told John's mother.
A lady called Mrs Leahy who lived in Conway Street said that Latham, who was a cowkeeper residing in Back Lansdowne Place, had been looking through Mrs Thompson's window and laughing following John's disappearance. Miss Latham herself though solemnly declared her innocence and the coroner heard from detectives that they had been able to verify her accounts of her actions on that day.
A doctor confirmed that death had been due to drowning and in summing up the deputy coroner Mr Wybergh told the jury that if they believed Charles's evidence, then they should return a verdict of wilful murder against Latham. After some deliberation they returned a verdict of 'wilful murder against some person or persons unknown'. The killer of John has never been found.