When a girl was found dead in mysterious circumstances in the early 1890s it was first through she had been murdered, but lack of evidence led to the coroner's court returning a verdict of suffocation.
At around 11pm on Tuesday 2nd August 1892 Margaret Eaton went to the water closet at the back of her house in Hopwood Street and was horrified to find the body of a young girl there. Her head was in the water and Margaret called her husband to life the body out, but a doctor in Athol Street declared life extinct.
A post mortem concluded that the cause of death was suffocation but there were no marks of violence on the body. The girl had long blond curly hair and was well dressed and not undernourished. After the body was taken to the mortuary at Princes Dock, dock labourer James Concannon and his wife Louisa, whose three year old daughter had gone missing from Newsham Street around 330pm, were informed. The couple went to the mortuary and confirmed that the little girl was that of their three years and eight month old daughter Ann.
Mrs Concannon told police that a pair of nine carat gold earrings and new pair of boots were missing from the body and it was supposed that Ann had been killed after a robbery. An examination of the stomach contents found that she had eaten pickled onions something her parents insisted had not been provided by them. An inquest was opened on 5th August but immediately adjourned due to the police having had very leads available to them.
Enquiries at pawn shops found no trace of the missing items and when the inquest resumed on 17th August, police were unable to offer any further evidence. Two doctors who had examined the body said there were no marks of violence and it was suggested by the coroner that perhaps Ann had gone into the closet to escape a robber and fell into the position which she was found. With no evidence to suggest who may have placed Ann in the closet, the only verdict the jury could return was one of suffocation.