Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Jock The Ripper: Murder at West Lodge, 1892

Wednesday October 12th 1892
'A shocking tragedy, which in many of its revolting details resembles the horrible murders that took place some time ago in Whitechapel, occurred early yesterday morning in the western district of Pollokshields. A jobbing gardener, named William McEwan, who had been left in charge of a villa on Maxwell Drive, murdered a woman and after mutilating her body in the most inhuman manner buried it in pieces in the grounds surrounding the house.

West Lodge, Maxwell Drive
Photographed in 1889

The news of the tragedy created the greatest excitement in the district, which is one of the most aristocratic residential suburbs in Glasgow. What prompted the man to take the woman's life. or in what particular manner he did so, nobody, except probably himself, is in a position to say. After committing the crime he absconded from the vicinity, and though diligent search was made for him throughout the day, up until a late hour he had not been heard of.

The earliest intelligence of murder was communicated to police by another gardener who is employed at an adjoining house. This man to have been on very friendly terms with McEwan and was in the habit of visiting him at West Lodge a good many times a day. On the day in question. on calling at West Lodge he was surprised to find the front door open. Obtaining no answer to his call he walked straight into the apartment and was almost overcome by what he saw. The room was in the greatest confusion. and on the floor was a sickening pool of blood. A square of about two yards was covered in blood. He retraced his steps the courtyard, where he remarked blood stains on the gravel of the avenue.This trail he followed for about thirty yards it struck off into the cultivated ground between the roadway and the eastern boundary wall. Here his practiced eye told him that the soil where the blood-trail terminated had only recently been turned up and decided to see if there was anything underneath. A turn or two of the spade disclosed the mutilated remains of the unfortunate woman and without waiting to investigate further he went and informed the police.

On their arrival at West Lodge they found everything as the man had represented it to be - the blood on the kitchen floor and on the furniture of the room, and the other evidences that a horrible crime had taken place. The bedding and some wearing apparel, which may have been the property of the woman, and a white shirt, presumably McEwan's, were found stained with blood. The whole appearance of the room indicated that severe struggle had taken place. From the kitchen the officer proceeded to the ground that their informant had partially turned over and there discovered the remainder of the body in four different places. It had been shockingly mutilated. The legs and arms had been sawn off, the head had been severed from the trunk, the breasts were torn off. and the intestines extracted.

In the course of the evening the woman was identified as Mary Anderson a woman about 36 years of age. Although belonging to the unfortunate class she is said to have been a woman of quiet habits.'

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