|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
Mary Eleanor Wheeler Pearcey
Mary Eleanor Wheeler was born in 1866 and little is known of her early life, except that when she was fourteen years of age her father Thomas Wheeler was hanged on the 29 November 1880 at St Albans prison, for the murder of a local farmer Edward Anstee. In his prison cell Thomas had written a letter to the farmer's widow apologising for what he had done, and asked for forgiveness and her prayers that his sins would not be visited upon his wife or daughter, sadly as future events were to show this was not to be.
Mary, in her late teens, had a relationship with a carpenter named John Charles Pearcey and although they never married she took his surname and continued to use it after they parted. Mary was known to suffer from depression and also drank quite heavily, she never worked and spent much of her time in the company of wealthy men, one of these gentleman friends, Charles Creighton rented rooms for her at 2 Priory Street, Kentish Town, North London. She then began an affair with Mr Frank Samuel Hogg, a furniture remover, who was married with a daughter named Phoebe. On the morning of 24 October 1890 Mary asked a young lad to run an errand for her and deliver a note to Frank Samuel's wife, who was also named Phoebe, inviting her round for tea.
At 7.00pm a women's body was found lying on the pavement in Crossfield Road by a man returning from work. The woman's head was wrapped in a cardigan, which a policeman removed to reveal the blood stained face of Phoebe Hogg. At the morgue it was discovered that she had suffered a fractured skull and a large wound to the throat, the wound was so severe that it had almost severed the head. An examination of the location where the body was found indicated that the murder had taken place elsewhere. Later that evening a heavily bloodstained pram was discovered in Hamilton Terrace, about a mile from where the body had been discovered. The following morning the body of an infant was found, the child had died from suffocation. Frank Hogg and his sister Clara, on hearing of the discovery of a woman's body, went to the police station to report his wife missing. Frank then sent Clara to see Mary to inquire if she had seen Phoebe. Mary denied having seen Phoebe, but agreed to accompany Clara to the morgue to see if the woman's body was in fact Phoebe. Mary's behaviour at the morgue was strange, and she tried everything possible to stop Clara identifying the body. Clara, despite Mary's attempts to stop her, identified the body as that of Phoebe Hogg, and also identified the pram as hers. A neighbour told the police that she had seen Mary pushing the pram with a large object in it on the evening of the murder. When Frank was informed that the body had been identified as that of his wife, he confessed to having an affair with Mary. The police, now suspicious of Mary, searched Priory Street and found bloodstains in the kitchen, along with a bloodstained poker and carving knife, two broken windows in the kitchen provided signs of a struggle. When questioned to what use the bloodstained poker and knife had been Mary replied, 'Killing mice, killing mice, killing mice'. While her house was being searched, Mary sat at the piano playing popular tunes.
Mary was arrested and charged with the murder of mother and child, and when searched, bloodstains were found on her clothing and she was found to be wearing Phoebe Hoggs wedding ring.
Mary was tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty and sentenced to hang. On her final evening she asked her solicitor to place a personal advert in the Madrid newspaper, the message read, mecp last wish of mew, have not betrayed mew. Mary refused to elaborate on the meaning of the message, and was hanged on 23 December 1890, the hangman was James Berry.
Madame Tussaud's subsequently commissioned a wax model of Mary Pearcey, and also purchased the pram belonging to Frank Hogg.
Mary was described as 5ft 6"tall, 9 stone, with lovely russet hair and fine blue eyes. Sir Melville Macnaghten said of Pearcey, 'I have never seen a woman with a stronger physique'.
William Stewart, in his book Jack The Ripper - A New Theory, suggested Pearcey as a possible Ripper suspect, when he noticed the similarities between the murder of Mrs Hogg and the Whitechapel murders. He noted the savage throat cutting, the killing in private and later dumping of the body in a public place, which he also believed was the Ripper's M.O, and would explain why no witnesses heard any of the Ripper's victims scream. Stewart's theory however completely contradicts all the medical evidence, which shows that all the victims were murdered where they were found.
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