The Times (London).
4 April 1892
Melbourne, April 3.
Since his lodgement in gaol Deeming has been anything but docile. When the deputy governor read over the warrant to him the prisoner maintained a surly silence, and when he was ordered to strip, in accordance with the prison rules, he showed a strong disposition to refuse. The deputy governor warned him that the regulations must be obeyed and they would, if necessary, be enforced. If he had any complaint to make it would be reported in the proper quarter. Deeming then complied. He is constantly watched by a special guard of three warders, but, like all other unconvicted prisoners, he is entitled to obtain his meals from outside should he desire to do so. So far, however, he has not availed himself of this privilege.
Mr. Lyle, the prisoner's solicitor, had a long conversation with him yesterday. The interview, during which both sat at a small table, took place in the open air - in the prison quadrangle. A warder was stationed a short distance behind the accused just out of hearing. It is stated that Deeming emphatically denied the various crimes attributed to him. He declared that he had no knowledge whatever of the Windsor murder, and indignantly repudiated the suggestion that he had made incriminating admissions to Mr. Hirschfeldt. With regard to the murders in South Africa with which his name has been associated, he said it would be easy for him to prove an alibi, and expressed astonishment at the reports to which currency has been given by the newspapers. "Wait," he exclaimed, "till I get out! I'll make the newspapers sit up! I will have every one of them up for libel." The idea that he had anything to do with the Whitechapel murders seemed to amuse rather than annoy him. He laughed loudly when told he was reported to have confessed that he was Jack the Ripper, and he denied that he had ever mentioned the matter to Mr. Haynes, the solicitor who acted for him at Perth, or any one else. The woodcuts of his portraits which had been published in the Melbourne papers he also treated as a subject for merriment, asserting that they were vile caricatures, and that his mother would not know him by them. Several attempts which were made to photograph him were unsuccessful, as he so distorted his features as to render them unrecognisable. Ultimately, however, a true likeness was obtained when he was off his guard by means of a pocket camera.
The most important identification of the prisoner which has yet been made is that of Mr. Webster, who was governor of Hull Prison while Deeming was confined there two years ago. After seeing the prisoner Mr. Webster made the following declaration:- "I have this day seen in Melbourne Gaol the prisoner Swanston, alias Williams. He is the same man who in the year 1890 was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in Hull Prison under the name of Harry Lawson." It seems that when Mr. Webster went into the cell and stood looking at the prisoner, the latter angrily demanded, "What are you looking at? I don't know you." "But I know you, Harry Lawson," Mr. Webster rejoined. At this emphatic identification Deeming was visibly disconcerted, though he endeavoured to appear unconcerned.
Detective Brant, who was formerly engaged as a private detective at Johannesburg, subsequently identified the prisoner as Frederick Deeming, whom he had known in connexion with certain South African swindles, and also in connexion with the murder of a white man and two natives at Johannesburg in 1888.
Among the prisoner's luggage are 16 pairs of trousers, one of which is stained with what looks like spots of blood. All doubt on this point will soon be set at rest, as the garment is now being examined by an analyst. There has also been found among the prisoner's effects a copy of the certificate of his marriage with his last wife. It shows that, under the designation of Albert Oliver Williams, 36, army inspector, and son of Colonel Williams, he was married on September 22, 1891, at St. Anne's, Rainhill, to Emily Lydia Mather, 26, daughter of Mrs. Mather, stationer. The certificate is witnessed by the Rev. Mr, Johnson, the curate. In addition to the articles already mentioned, Deeming's boxes contained a lady's hat and several ornamental belts of peculiar patterns, which Mr. Hirschfeldt declares were worn by Mrs. Williams on board the Kaiser Wilhelm during the voyage out to Melbourne.
The latest story as to how Deeming shaved off his moustache is that while he was amusing himself by putting a stone in the prison yard at Albany, one of the constables who was taking part in the same pastime threw a bottle at him. The bottle was smashed, and the prisoner, picking up a piece of the glass, remarked, "This is as good as a razor. I will shave off my moustache with it." The two constables, entering into the spirit of the joke, each took a piece of glass, and put the matter to the test at once. The experiment succeeded, and in this manner, says rumour, the prisoner's moustache was removed.
Three excellent photographs of the prisoner, one full face and one from each side, have now been obtained. When he was again placed in position, Deeming rose and exclaimed, "I won't be photographed." The deputy governor, who was present, said, "You will do what you are told! Sit down again at once." Seeing that he could gain nothing by disobeying, Deeming then quietly submitted to the operation. He has since been very quiet.
Deeming is stripped and searched every night before retiring to rest, and his every movement is watched through an iron grating in the door by warders stationed outside. He continues to ask at intervals for Miss Rounsevell, who absolutely refuses to go to the gaol for the purpose of according him an interview. When brought out for identification, Deeming is placed among a number of other prisoners who, like himself, are in everyday attire, and is allowed to stand in any attitude.
Reuter's Special Service.
Johannesburg, April 3.
Every phase of the Deeming case has been followed here with the keenest interest, and as soon as the news of the prisoner's South African exploits was cabled from England inquiries were set on foot by the police with a view to ascertaining whether the man now in custody in Australia was really the author of the triple murder perpetrated here in 1888, and also whether there was any ground for the suspicion that James Keays, who came out of the diggings from Australia in company with a man named Lawson, and died shortly afterwards, was the victim of foul play. The investigation, so far as it has gone, seems to have effectually disposed of one at least of these suggestions. It was soon discovered that the most intimate friend of Keys was a man named Larsen, not Lawson, and that he was not only a totally different person from the Harry Lawson who appears to have been identified as Deeming, but is still resident in Johannesburg in the employment of the Stanhope Company.
Mr. Larsen, with whom the police at once communicated, gave them all the information in his power as to the death of his friend, and there was no difficulty in establishing beyond a doubt that the James Keays in question died of a fever at Johannesburg on May 16, 1889, and that a certificate, signed by the doctor who attended him, was officially recorded at the time.
With regard to Deeming's supposed connexion with the murder of a white man and two Kaffirs in February, 1888, it is not so easy to obtain definite information, but the Randt detectives who investigated the crime, and have been following up the recent so called disclosures, attach no importance whatever to the report that Deeming has been identified by ex Detective Brand. They point out that the crime was committed during the night, and that suspicion never actually fell upon any particular individual, though it was known that the culprit in the case of one of the natives was a white man, and it was believed that the other two victims were murdered by the same hand. The police, therefore, do not see how the alleged identification of Deeming as the author of these crimes is possible. They are still pursuing their investigation, but the facts now in their possession point to the conclusion that at the date of the murders Deeming was not in Johannesburg at all.
Reuter's Special Service.
Melbourne, April 2.
The detectives have been overhauling the luggage of Williams, alias Deeming, alias Swanston, and have made some discoveries of great importance at the present time. The first of these is a marriage certificate, which is dated "Parish Church, Rainhill, September 22, 1891," the contracting parties being Albert Oliver Williams and Emily Mather. There is also a timetable giving the arrivals and departures of the trains between Rainhill and Liverpool. There are a lot of Christmas cards which had been sent to Emily Mather from friends at Rainhill and Liverpool, together with a number of Bibles, Prayer books, and other devotional volumes bearing her name. A number of articles of dress belonging to the unfortunate woman have also been found, some of them being easily recognizable as her property in consequence of their peculiar patterns. Among them some belts, a hat of unusual shape, and a gold ornament have already been identified as having been worn by her during the voyage out on the Kaiser Wilhelm II. More gruesome in character are a knife and a hammer headed axe. They are of a kind used only in medical examinations, the knife being a dissecting knife. Both bear evidence of usage, and, as they are employed only in post mortem work, they may lead to an explanation of Williams's morbid motive in his crimes and his work on the bodies of his victims.
Dalziel (The Times Special).
Cape Town, April 3.
The Johannesburg police, who are inquiring into Deeming's antecedents, have been unable to find any confirmation of the accused's supposed identity with the author of the murders perpetrated there in 1888. It has been satisfactorily proved that James Keays died of fever in 1889 and that his friend who accompanied him to South Africa from Queensland was not Deeming but a man named Larsen.
Our Plymouth Correspondent telegraphs:- Careful investigations are being made into a story that Deeming, under the name of Lawson, stayed at Devonport for some weeks in 1888 with a young lady passing as his wife, whom he suddenly left, but who subsequently followed him. There are considerable discrepancies as to date and the descriptions of the man, but there is strong circumstantial evidence pointing to the man being Lawson. Communications are being made in various directions with a view to clear up the mystery. Meanwhile it is proved beyond doubt that Deeming landed at Plymouth on the evening of September 27, 1889, having embarked on the British India Company's steamer Jumna in the name of Levy at Aden. During the voyage he talked boastingly of his wealth, and stated that he was the owner of a large yacht, the command of which he had offered to the chief officer, Mr. Bartram. Hr brought home with him a lion cub, and on landing at Plymouth stayed at the Grand Hotel, the cub being lodged in a cellar of that building. Five pounds of raw beef were purchased for the animal and charged to Levy's account on the following day, when he left the town. The man impressed the people at the hotel as being very wealthy and gentlemanly in his behaviour. On a portrait of Deeming being shown to the servants of this establishment they at once recognized it as that of Levy.