Victorian Skull Found in TV Naturalist’s Backyard

The skull belonged to a widow who was killed by her maid

By Beth Stebner
|  Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011  |  Updated 6:46 AM EDT
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Victorian Skull Found in TV Naturalist’s Backyard

AP

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A skull discovered in British TV naturalist David Attenborough’s backyard was a victim of a Victorian-era murder, a coroner discovered.

The Daily Mail reports that a 55-year-old widow, Julia Martha Thomas, was attacked by her maid Kate Webster in 1879. The maid shoved her down the stairs after a fight, and then dismembered her.

More than a century after the murder, Thomas was positively identified.

After Webster pushed Thomas down the stairs, things took a turn for the sinister. Webster reportedly boiled the body, and taking a leaf from Sweeny Todd, fed Thomas to hungry street children. She then threw the remains in the River Thames.

The murder was then dubbed the "Barnes Mystery."

The case had been full of dead ends until this past week, where carbon dating filled in the blanks. Webster was convicted of murder back in the 1800’s, but the identity and whereabouts of Thomas had previously been unknown.
 

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