The Murder Of John Gill

Posted: November 4, 2009 in Other Ripper Research
In the month of December, 1888, 8 year old John Gill was found murdered and mutilated in an outhouse in Bradford, Yorkshire. Whether it was a Ripper murder has not quite been established as of yet, but here are a few articles pertaining to this tragedy:
Whose Horrible Death Startles England Afresh.
John Gill, Eight Years Old, of Bradford, Murdered and Terribly Mutilated After the Whitechapel Fashion.
LONDON, December 29. – The horrible discovery of a young boy’s dead and mutilated body was made at Bradford this morning and the town is wild with excitement, fearing that "Jack the Ripper," or apt imitators of his, have made an appearance there. The body was found in an out house and was that of a boy named John Gill, aged 8 years. The boy, when last seen alive, was sliding on the ice with a number of his companions. This morning he was found murdered. His legs and arms were roughly chopped off and tied to the body. The ears were cut off and there were two stab wounds in the chest. The heart and entrails were torn out and lay on the ground near the body, which was wrapped in a rough covering and flung in the outhouse.
The greatest excitement prevails, many believing that Jack the Ripper has made his advent in Bradford. The police, however, hold the theory that the murder was committed by a gang of drunken lads whose minds were inflamed by reading the reports of the Whitechapel tragedies and wanted to imitate the work of that fiend. It is supposed that the murder was committed at some distance from the place where the body was found and that afterward the body was carried to the outhouse. No arrests have yet been made, though detectives have been sent down from London.
Later news from Bradford says that a milkman has been arrested on suspicion of having committed the murder. The boy used sometimes to accompany the milkman on his rounds and the prisoner was the first to recognize the mutilated body of the lad. It is now certain that the body was placed in the outhouse, where it was found between the hours of 4 and 7 this morning.
Source: Brooklyn Eagle, December 29, 1888, Page 4
Another London Horror.
Special to The Chronicle.
LONDON, Dec. 29. – The police are again excited, this time over the finding of the mutilated body of a boy in an outhouse at Bradford. The victim of this new outrage was identified as John Gill, eight years old, who was seen about 10 o’clock last night, with a companion sliding on the ice. The body was found about daylight this morning. The remains show the murder to have been most brutal. The legs and arms were chopped off in a rough manner and tied to his body; his ears were cut off, two knife wounds were found in his chest and his heart and his entrails torn out. The remains were wrapped in a rough covering. The police believed the clumsy manner in which the body was mutilated that the crime was the work of drunken lads whose imagination had been inflamed by reading accounts of the Whitechapel atrocities. It is supposed the butchery was committed in some other place and the remains afterwards carried by the perpetrators to the outhouse in which they were found. The crime created the greatest excitement at Bradford. The police have not as yet any trace to the murderers. A milkman was arrested on suspicion of having knowledge of the crime. The murdered boy occasionally accompanied him on his rounds. The prisoner was first to recognize the remains. It is certain the body was placed in the outhouse between 4 and 7 o’clock this morning.
Source: Aspen Daily Chronicle, December 30, 1888, Page 1
[Copyright, 1888]
LONDON, December 29. – The murder of the boy, John Gill, at Bradford, has created a sensation equal to that produced by the Whitechapel butcheries. It appears that the lad was in the habit of accompanying the milkman on his morning rounds. On Thursday he went with him, as usual, without having had his breakfast. Later the milkman returned without the boy. Mrs. Gill enquired as to the whereabouts of her son, and was told that he was coasting with some other boys a short distance away. The milkman’s answers to subsequent questions were very evasive and aroused suspicion of foul play previous to the discovery of the boy’s mutilated body. It is believed by many that the child was murdered to prevent the discovery of another crime of which he was a witness.
Source: Brooklyn Eagle, December 31, 1888, Page 6
The name of the Bradford victim was Gill, which gave rise to the supposition that the child was a girl. At the inquest the police are endeavouring to prove that accused Burnett and the boy were delivering milk, when the former decoyed the latter into the stables and there committed the crime
Source: Clutha Leader, Volume XV, Issue 756, 11 January 1889, Page 6
Barlett, charged with the murder of the boy Gill at Bradford in December last, has been acquitted.
Source: Bruce Herald, Volume XX, Issue 2046, 15 March 1889, Page 3
(Dunedin Star Correspondent.)
It is highly satisfactory to learn that the four policemen whose evidence in the Cumberland burglary case led to the conviction and incarceration of the two poor men Brannigan and Murphy for nearly nine years are to be put on their trial for perjury. The custom of first locking a suspected person up and then procuring or manufacturing testimony against him or her seems far too common in the provinces. One had a striking instance of this at Bradford last week in the case of the murder and mutilation of the little boy Gill. The last person seen with the child was the milkman Barrett, who was very fond of him, and made a great pet of him. Prima facie, it seemed grotesque to suspect this good-natured, kindly man with the motiveless murder of his little friend; and no people were more astounded than the boy’s parents when Barrett was arrested. The police, however, put on immense frills, talked vaguely of "incriminatory discoveries" and "damaging admissions," and absolutely obtained two remands, in the intervals of which they tried their hardest to vamp up some sort of evidence against the unfortunate fellow. Nevertheless the case broke down completely, and Barrett, after a month’s unjust imprisonment, was discharged. [Barrett was afterwards rearrested on a verdict of wilful murder by a coroner’s jury, but was acquitted at his trial.]
Source: Bush Advocate, Volume II, Issue 135, 21 March 1889, Page 3
The British Detective.
Reader of Mark Twain’s Roughing It will remember the verdict of the coroner’s jury on the death of Buck Fanshaw, which was to the effect the he "died by the visitation of Providence," when he had suicided by four different routes. Those with a sense of humor will be amply repaid by reading the report of an official inquiry just closed concerning the murder of the boy John Gill, at Bradford, England. The horror was of the Jack the Ripper order. The body was found dismembered, the heart cut out and the boots placed in the abdominal cavity. The average American court of inquiry would have jumped to the conclusion that death had resulted from this artistic carving process, "but they do these things much better hin Hingland, don’t cher know." They sent the contents of the stomach to be analyzed under the impression apparently that death resulted from a dose of cold pizen. This is the result of the analysis:
"The first witness called was Mr. F.M. Rimmington, borough analyst, Bradford. In answer to Mr. Freeman, he said he had received the stomach of the deceased boy for examination. It contained farinaceous food with a few currants; and he concluded that the boy had been eating currant cake."
Here was a clue to a mystery! Currant cake has been often known to wrestle mightily in the night with the rash stomach that surrounds it; never before had it been known to rise up and smite its victim hip and thigh, and cut his heart out, and then in sportive mood take his boots to its embrace.
One clue leads to another, however, for presently the sleuth-hounds of the law discovered in the house of an innocent milk vendor named Barrett a bread knife and a spice cake. Read the official report.
"Detective Butterworth, examined by Mr. Freeman, said that on Saturday, December 29, at 10 o’clock in the morning, he, with Detective King, visited the house of the prisoner and assisted in searching it. Detective King took a bread knife with a broad blade from a drawer in the kitchen. In the house witness found a spice cake, and he cut a piece off it so that, the medical men might examine it."
Unfortunately the result of the analysis of the spice cake is not given, but doubtless it was an incendiary and murderous cake. But the plot thickens, and the meshes of the law slowly but surely entangle their victim! On searching their prisoner the officers discovered a deadly pants button. Straightaway they hie them back to the house and renew the search. The lynx-eyed detectives are rewarded; they find a pair of pants with a missing button! And with this damning evidence of guilt they are now sure of convicting the assassin.
But an obtuse magistrate refuses to recognize the button as affording conclusive evidence, or as even, a link in the chain, The detective testifies:
"From over the right-hand pocket of the cord trousers a button was missing. The buttons that were on the trousers corresponded with the button found on Barrett when he was apprehended."
Whereupon the following colloquy occurred:
"Mr. Waugh said the button produced was like those on the clothes the prisoner now wore. Several people in court said their buttons were the same.
"Mr. Waugh asked the prosecution to say what they hoped to make out by the button.
"Mr. Freeman: This button was found in the possession of the prisoner at the time of his arrest, and a similar button is missing from the newly-washed trousers. That is a peculiarity.
"The Chairman: What is the peculiarity? I should not think it peculiar for a man in the prisoner’s position to be found with a spare trouser button in his pocket. It is a perfectly natural thing for the missing article to be found in his possession.
"Mr. Waugh: The police must have been aware that similar buttons were on the prisoner’s other trousers."
The result of the trial was a terrible set-back to the detectives. With the shrewdness and acumen characteristic of the profession, and which only comes by long practice, extraordinary intelligence and intuition, they had, to their own satisfaction at least, hounded down a red-handed murderer, and at every stop had forged a new link in the chain of evidence. – Texas Siftings.
Source: Logan County Advocate, April 27, 1889, Page 15

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