A. Kuznetsov: I propose to start "unwinding" this story from the end. So, on March 30, 1896, a barge rose up along the Thames near the town of Reading, whose owner, Captain Charles Humphries, saw a bundle floating near the wooden bridge not far from the wooden bridge. Together with the sailor, he hooked up the find with a hook and began to examine it on the shore. Unfolding the outer packaging of thick brown paper, under the two layers of flannel, Humphreys found the corpse of a small child. Leaving the sailor on the shore, he went for the police.
The investigator, an ordinary criminal police officer, James Anderson, decided to take a closer look at the water-tattered wrapping paper.
S. Buntman: AND?
A. Kuznetsov: You will not believe it, but he did manage to read the barely distinguishable address of a certain Mrs. Thomas.
Thomas was one of Amelia Dyer’s many last names. Smith, Harding and so on ...
S. Buntman: Are these last names Mrs. Dyer used for cover?
A. Kuznetsov: Yes. Moving from place to place, she now and then took a new name for herself.
What did our heroine do? Popular in those years business - baby farming, that is, took on the maintenance of children born out of wedlock with the prospect of their further adoption.
Amelia Dyer herself was born in Bristol, in the family of a wealthy shoemaker. At 24, she married, had a daughter. When Amelia's husband died (they had a significant age difference), she was faced with the problem of finding a source of income that would ensure her decent existence. Dyer promptly graduated from the nursing courses and decided to start baby-farming.
S. Buntman: Was it a profitable business?
A. Kuznetsov: Full Sometimes they paid for the maintenance of the child weekly, sometimes for several months in advance. Dyer, for example, from the last cases, which, in fact, were disclosed, demanded an advance of 10 pounds.
S. Buntman: And then she, apparently, was beneficial to the child died as soon as possible. Money is in your pocket, and that's it.
A. Kuznetsov: Exactly. True, in the middle, let's say, of our heroine’s career, a case occurred with her when she was imprisoned for six months. How did this happen? Another child died in her shelter. Then everything was done officially. Dyer was called by a doctor (in a short period of time, the 10th or 20th time in a row), who eventually decided to call the police. And although no criminal intent was proven in the actions of our heroine, she was convicted of negligence and neglect of her duties.
After serving for six months, Amelia Dyer was released and made conclusions: first, you need to get rid of the children as soon as possible, and, second, you don’t need to call any doctors anymore.
Amelia Dyer. Photo from wallskid.com
Still, back to the beginning of our conversation, the murder of Helen Fry, who was found in the Thames. On the neck of the girl was found a white ribbon, tucked into a knot.
S. Buntman: So Dyer choked her victims?
A. Kuznetsov: On the one hand, yes, on the other, forensic physicians could not fix the fractures of the larynx on the remains found. That is, there were no obvious signs of strangulation. When Dyer began to interrogate about this, she indifferently replied: “Yes, I loved to watch them die. But it all happened so fast ... ”
A. Kuznetsov: From the act of strangulation Dyer, apparently, did not receive pleasure. She did this, trying to hide the tracks. But at the same time left "prints" in other places. For example, when the police tracked down the house in which she lived with her daughter and son-in-law and began to search him, they found an insane amount of evidence: receipts for newspaper ads, letters from mothers, and so on.
In May 1896, the process began over Amelia Dyer. For more than 20 years, she was engaged in baby farming and, according to the most conservative estimates, sent more than 400 children to the world. However, at the trial she was charged with only one murder - Doris Marmont, whose corpse was identified by her mother.
S. Buntman: Total?
A. Kuznetsov: Gallows.
Amelia Dyer, 1896. Photos from the site refresher. sk
By the way, one more terrible detail. Two years after the execution of Amelia Dyer at the railway station, a half-dead girl was found on the platform. The child was saved. Pretty soon the police found the mother. In the course of the investigation, it turned out that a certain Mrs. Stewart had taken the girl to be raised, promising that "the baby will have a wonderful home, parental love and care." Having received money and a three-week baby from her mother, Mrs. Stewart threw him onto the platform of a passing train. But why all this? This very Mrs. Stewart was Mary Ann Palmer, nee Dyer, the daughter of our heroine.