23 May 1892
Melbourne, Aus., May 23.
Frederick Bayley Deeming was hanged one minute after 10 o'clock this morning. Seventy reporters and physicians gathered in the prison yard to witness the execution and in front outside the wall thousands upon thousands waited from 6 o'clock this morning to watch the black flag and wait for the signal that all was over. When Deeming was led into the yard everybody was surprised to see that he was not chained as had been expected. He walked unsteadily between the guards and several times tottered as if about to fall. His face was ashen and he shook like a man with the palsy. Several times when the chaplain spoke to him encouragingly in an undertone Deeming parted his lips to reply but he uttered no sound. He seemed to be stupefied by his approaching death. When his arms were pinioned he wavered and would have fallen had he not been caught by the warden. At first he shook his head when his last opportunity to speak was given him. Then he rallied from his stupor and with a strong effort called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
He tried to say more and stood with his mouth half open, bit no words came. As the noose was adjusted his knees knocked together and he would have collapsed had he not been supported until he was swung into mid air. He died without a struggle and almost instantly. The body, after being cut down, was taken in charge by the prison physician, who will superintend the post mortem examination into the structure of the skull and brain.
Deeming's conduct at the last was a surprise to all who have been near him since he was sentenced. Last evening he seemed to realize for the first time that all hope was gone. Before then, despite occasional fits of despondency, he had told the prison officials that he was not born to be hung and that he would get out yet and "make it hot for his persecutors." Shortly after supper last evening he called to the keeper and asked anxiously:
"Do you think it is all up with me?"
"This is your last night, Deeming," was the reply, "and you had better talk to your God instead of me."
Deeming was silent for several minutes, and then inquired, brokenly, for the chaplain.
"I have been a wild fellow," he said, "and have sins enough to be pardoned, God knows, but I am not so bad as they made me out. Only to think that poor crazy Fred should die on the gallows."
When the chaplain came Deeming was crying. He said he wished to review the sins of his past life and to have the chaplain pray with him for forgiveness. He said he had been a good for nothing fellow and had injured most of the persons he had met in his life.
"But the only murder I ever committed," he protested, "was when I killed Emily Mather, if I did kill her. I was crazy when I did it and the men who swore away my life at the trial have no more answer than I."
The chaplain read prayers with Deeming and Deeming took down his Bible and read several chapters aloud. Then he grew calmer and was talking about his affection for Miss Rounceswell when the chaplain left. He wrote a letter to Miss Rounceswell and another to Mr. Lyle, his lawyer. He told the keeper that the heaviest burden on his conscience was that he had ruined the young woman's life by the notoriety he had brought upon her.
Deeming went to bed at 10 o'clock and went to sleep almost immediately. He did not wake until 5 o'clock. He took out his Bible and read in Revelations, then made his toilet carefully, and put in order the papers containing his last additions to his autobiography. He ate heartily at breakfast and drank six or seven cups of coffee. At 7 o'clock he began to be nervous and called the keeper, saying he wished to free his mind. It was then thought that the long expected confession was coming. Instead, however, Deeming began reiterating his story of his responsibility at the time of the murder of Miss Mather.
"The people of Melbourne are hanging me," he said. "The judge and the jury and even those perjured doctors are not the guilty ones. The people wished to lynch me when I was brought back from Perth, and they raised such a clamor that nobody dared tell the truth. The jury knew that I was not responsible; I could see it in their faces. I have not been a good man, but I have never committed a crime in a sane moment."
Deeming then wandered off incoherently into contradictory statements as regards his relations to Miss Mather, at one time saying she was still living in Australia and at another that he might have killed her in a fit of forgetfulness. While preparations were making to take him out to the scaffold he became a pitiable figure. He cringed and cowered in the corner of his cell, first taking down his Bible, then throwing it from him, muttering to himself, and then speaking loudly and incoherently to the chaplain. As the door opened to let him out he burst into tears and begged for a few moments respite. When this was refused his mind apparently sank into a stupor. He made one or two attempts to speak and then relaxed from all efforts, allowing himself to be half lead, half carried from the building. The chaplain said subsequently that in all his experience he had not seen a more broken creature.
Mr. Lyle, Deeming's lawyer, says he has not decided what to do with Deeming's autobiography. He has not yet had time to read much of the manuscript and what he has read has lead him to think that it has few claims to being a truthful narrative. The spelling and writing are bad, he says, and there is evidently so much incoherent philosophizing in the work that he fears nobody will be willing to undertake the financial risk of publishing it. The result of the post mortem examination of Deeming's brain will not be known, probably, for several days.
Frederick Bayley Deeming was one of the most versatile and bloodthirsty wretches in the history of the world's crime. That part of his career which led immediately to his arrest, trial and death at Melbourne began in Rainhill, a suburb of Liverpool, on July 21st, 1891. He then took lodgings, under the name of Williams, at the Commercial hotel on that village, and shortly began paying court to Miss Emily Mather, whom he subsequently married. He rented Dinham villa, on the outskirts of the village during his courtship, and there received a woman and four young children who disappeared shortly before his marriage to Miss Mather. After the wedding on September 22 he and his wife took a short wedding journey and on October 17th they sailed for Australia. They went to live in a house in Windsor, a suburb of Melbourne. Then, on December 24th, nine days after their arrival, he killed his young wife and buried her under the floor. He then disappeared. About ten weeks later, when the tenants were about to take the house, a peculiar odor was noticed, the floor was taken up and the body of Mrs. Deeming was found. Marks on her head and neck showed that she had been killed by blows. When this news reached Rainhill, the police there tore up the floor of Dinham villa, to satisfy their suspicion that the woman and four children who had been there with Deeming might have suffered the same fate as did Emily Mather. They found under the floor, which Deeming himself had cemented, the bodies of the woman and children. The woman was his wife, nee Marie James, whom he married in England in 1881, and the children were his own. Deeming was caught near Perth, in Australia, late in March, after he had advertised through a matrimonial agency and had made arrangements to marry Miss Rounceswell in Perth. After his arrest and incarceration in Melbourne, awaiting trial, more or less evidence was found leading to connect Deeming with dozens of heinous crimes, including those of Jack the Ripper and a man who knew Deeming in Halifax came forward with proof that Deeming while there had written to the Eddowes woman, one of the Whitechapel victims. The exact truth of the charges was not and never will be ascertained, as Deeming was tried, convicted, sentenced and hanged for the killing of Emily Mather only.
The motives which prompted Deeming in his murderous career cannot be discovered. This adventurer, swindler and bigamist was one of three sons of a workingman in Liverpool, England. Frederick, the youngest of the three, was a slender young man of medium height, with light brown hair, steel blue eyes and thin lips that made the heaviness of his lower jaw seem sinister. At seventeen, after several narrow escapes from punishment for petty offences, he went to sea in a trading vessel. On his return, he married his brother's wife's sister, whom he soon abandoned to go to South Africa and Australia. At last he sent for his wife, who joined him in Australia, and Deeming soon began to live in luxurious style. It is impossible to recount his innumerable swindles in England, Cape Town and South America, his second marriage and murder of his second wife and other victims, and finally the killing of his last wife, for which crime he has suffered the penalty of death.
The defence in the case was one of the most novel in the history of jurisprudence, and the more murders that could be fastened on the man the stronger it would have been. It was that Deeming was prenatally influenced and that he was really what he claimed to be, "a moral monstrosity" with an ungovernable propensity at times to homicide.