By Nicola Sly
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Extra resources for Hampshire Murders
Sarah, meanwhile, was nervously wringing her hands and kept repeating, ‘What shall I do? ’ over and over again. Thinking that Sarah had had a nightmare, Louisa led the distressed woman back upstairs to her bedroom, but, when the door was opened, they immediately spotted Thomas lying in bed, covered with blood. Sarah explained that two men had crept into the house and murdered her husband. Louisa called downstairs for Samuel Beatley who, as soon as he looked round the bedroom door and saw Thomas, went off to seek help.
Needless to say, Beveridge was in no hurry to go home and, when he didn’t return, Mary Ann again sent her daughter to the pub to fetch him and, once more, he told the girl that he would be home ‘directly’. When the girl arrived back at the house for the second time without her father, she found her mother standing on the stairs, dressed in her outdoor clothes. Unusually, baby Thomas was not in her arms and his older sister asked where he was. Her mother assured her that the baby was sound asleep, then asked her daughter to take her to the nearest police station as she wanted to fetch a policeman to that brazen hussy Mrs Bunter.
Once these had been removed, all that remained in the basket was a bundle made from two cambric handkerchiefs that had been roughly stitched together on all four sides. Curiously Mrs Massell unpicked a little of the stitching and saw that the contents of the cambric bag were further wrapped in what looked like an old apron. She pulled the apron aside then immediately drew back in horror. The cloth-wrapped parcel contained the dead body of a baby boy. At that time, Mr Fricker, aged thirty-two, was unwell and confined to his bed, so Mary Ann went to Mrs Fricker to report her gruesome discovery.