31st March 1861

AWFUL MURDER

A fearful crime was committed yesterday morning at the Militia Barracks, Kingston-upon-Thames. The victim was a young woman only twenty years old, named Diana Wickins, and while asleep she was murdered by her stepsister, a married woman, the wife of a sergeant-major in the 3rd Regiment of Royal Surrey Militia, who, while in that state, nearly severed her head from her body, dividing the right carotid artery, the jugular vein, and the windpipe with a razor.

It would seem that the husband of the wretched woman, who is highly respected by his officers, who placed the utmost confidence in him, had left his bed about seven o’clock in the morning, and went out into the barrack yard, leaving his wife in her own bed, and the unhappy deceased in an adjoining room, where she slept upon a temporary bed made up for her upon a sofa; and his wife must have got up almost immediately, took one of her husband’s razors from the drawer in which it was kept, and then proceeded to the adjoining, room where the unhappy deceased was lying.

There appears to be very little doubt that at the time she was asleep and lying on her left side, and while in that position the side of the neck, which was uppermost, thus causing the injuries above described. Instantaneous death would not appear to have been the result, for there is very little doubt that upon the first sensation of pain the poor young creature raised one of her hands, and in so doing received a severe injury upon the fingers. She then got out of bed, and staggered for about six feet into the adjoining room, where she fell dead, literally covered with blood.

Dr Cory and Mr Sudlow Roots, two eminent practitioners at Kingston, were speedily in attendance, but all human aid was, of course, unavailing.

After committing the dreadful deed, the wretched woman went out to the barrack yard, where she met a sergeant belonging to the regiment, named Oates, to whom she at once stated that she had murdered her sister, and she then went to the pump and washed her hands, which were covered with blood. A constable was then sent for, and the prisoner was taken to the police station. It may naturally be imagined that the occurrence created the most intense anxiety in the town, and, as is usual in such cases, there were a variety of rumours as to the cause of the dreadful occurrence, among which was one that the deed was committed through jealousy; but so far as the evidence which was given before the magistrates went, there does not appear to be any ground for such a supposition, and at present the motive for the commission of the dreadful crime appears to be entirely a mystery.

The prisoner, at one stage of the inquiry, exclaimed with a wild tone, “Oh, it is not true—it is not true—it cannot be—it is a tale of fiction, and not of reality. If it is true, pray for me, pray for me. Oh, let me retrace my steps to my home—I am sure it cannot be.”

The prisoner was formally ordered to stand committed to take her trial for wilful murder at the ensuing summer assizes for the county of Surrey.

TWO CHILDREN MURDERED BY THEIR MOTHER

A shocking tragedy has taken place at a place called Edwardstone, not far from Sudbury. A married woman, named Salmon, has murdered two of her children, aged seven and five years, by drowning them in a pond. She is supposed to be insane.

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