Monday, 23 November 2015

Son's Letter Triggers Killing

A woman who received a scathing letter from her son in the navy condemning her lifestyle cut the throat of one of her other children, leading to her being detained in an asylum. 

In 1907 Louisa Cameron was a 47 year old mother of six who lived at Vaughan Street in Toxteth (situated between Grafton and Tamworth Streets). Her husband George was a labourer who spent much of his time working away in Rhyl. The youngest child, nine year old Charles, had learning difficulties and had spent some time at an orphanage in Beacon Lane in Everton.

Louisa had been getting medical help for a nervous disability for some time and was seen by a doctor on 7th April that year, complaining of pains in the head. Two days later she received a letter from her nineteen year old son George who was in the navy. The letter was scathing about his home life, describing his parents as 'encouraging laziness' and asking them not to write to him before he was due back on leave in August.

On the same afternoon that his mother had received the letter, Charles returned home from school and asked her for some food, only to have his throat cut with a kitchen knife. Louisa then stood at her doorstep holding out her blood covered hands, pleading to passers by to let her die. When a neighbour called Elizabeth Tull asked Louisa why she had done what she had, she told her about the letter, how her husband was away and that a thirteen year old daughter had been accused of stealing a sovereign.

When a police sergeant arrived to arrest Louisa she cried 'Oh my child what have I done, I have been low spirited lately.' Explaining that he had asked for food when there was none in the house, a search by the officer found that there was bread, butter and fish. There was also money in Louisa's pockets.

When she was assessed by the doctor at Walton gaol, Louisa said that she was worried she might die and if that happened what would become of her son. As such, she had determined that he had to die before he did. The doctor was of the opinion that Louisa was melancholial, suicidal and homicidal and that if left alone, would have killed herself. This meant that when Louisa appeared before Mr Justice Pickford on 9th May she was found guilty but insane and detained in an asylum for an indefinite period.

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