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How David Attenborough Once Helped Solve A Murder

Anish Vij

| Last updated 

How David Attenborough Once Helped Solve A Murder

David Attenborough once helped solve a murder known as 'the Barnes mystery'.

A mysterious skull was found in the broadcaster's back garden and it turns out it belonged a woman who was brutally murdered in 1879, as reported by BBC.

Julia Martha Thomas was killed by her maid, Kate Webster, 29, and the mystery case was finally solved in October 2010, thanks to the finding in the presenter's back garden, after workmen dug it up.

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

Eve though Webster was tried and executed for the murder, the head was never found, while the remains of the body were erringly thrown in the Thames and in various places around London. 

The murder victim pretty much lived in the exact same spot as Attenborough on a road in Richmond, south-west London.

The adjacent land also used to have a pub on it, which was said to be a favourite of the killer.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Well, the coroner concluded that the death was caused by asphyxiation and a head injury.

After looking at the evidence, Alison Thompson reckons Mrs Thomas who was in her 50s when she was killed.

"This is a fascinating case and a good example of how good old-fashioned detective work, historical records and technological advances came together to solve the 'Barnes mystery'," said Ch Supt Clive Chalk.

At the time, an academic who specialises in the period was completely shocked by the discovery.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Matt Fullerty, an English lecturer and author of a novel based on the killing, said: "I really can’t believe it.

"It was a huge case at the time which gripped London.

"To have the head of Mrs Thomas found on Sir David’s property adds a whole new twist to the story."

Mr Fullerty added: "There is a perfect irony in the story being so famous in its day, then vanishing, and then being connected to a respected figure in society like Sir David, as Mrs Thomas was in her smaller world of polite Richmond society."

He said: "It was a cruel world in London back in the 1870s, and someone such as Sir David now being involved in the story adds both a fireside comfort to the story, but also a few extra chills."

One of Sir David’s neighbours, Marie-Therese Vincent, said: "Oh my goodness me, my road is haunted. It is a bit gruesome."

A police spokesperson said: "The skull currently remains in situ and will be removed and examined by specialists in due course."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: David Attenborough

Anish Vij
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