In September, 1898, the dismembered corpse of a young woman was found in a pond in Bridgeport Connecticut, in America.
However, the gruesome discovery set in a motion a chain of events that would stretch from Bridgeport to London.
Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, on Sunday, 2nd October, 1898, took up the story:-
MURDER IN AMERICA
A LADY DOCTOR’S FLIGHT TO LONDON
“An atrocious crime, recently perpetrated in Connecticut, has caused a sensation throughout the United States. and interest has been further stimulated by the escape of the criminal, alleged to be a lady doctor, to this country.
The murder was brought to light on Sept. 12 when some lads passing over a bridge spanning the Yellow Mill Pond in Bridgeport, Connecticut, saw two parcels lying in the mud. They picked them up, and were horrified to discover that they contained the dismembered body of a young woman. Investigation showed that an illegal operation had been performed, under which the woman died, and her body had been cut up by a person having distinct surgical knowledge.
A WRONG IDENTIFICATION
The body was at first identified as that of Miss Marion Grace Perkins, of Middlesborough, Massachusetts, who had been missing from her home as the result of some love affair, and subsequent trouble. But when the father of Miss Perkins, having identified the body as that of his daughter, reached his home. he was met by Grace at the door, and Grace was then in good health and spirits.
Nor was this all, for it is stated that the remains were wrongly “identified” no less than six times in as many days.
Eventually, the body was buried as that of a person unknown.
AN IMPORTANT CLUE
The American police were not long in finding an important clue, for the dismembered corpse had been wrapped up in an undergarment bearing a laundry used on most of her clothing by Dr. Nancy Guilford, of Bridgeport.
Dr. Guilford was well known to the police.
Several years previously she and her husband, who was also a doctor, were arrested for causing the death of a young girl by criminal practices, the girl in question having been secretly buried by night, and the body being exhumed. Mrs. Guilford assumed the burden of responsibility and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
After completing the term, she took up her abode in Connecticut, and soon after she was again arrested as the principal in a similar case.
The matter was settled upon payment of a fine, but later, however, Mrs. Guilford was again in trouble in connection with a young girl named Taylor, of Cheshire, Conn. Her husband was also arrested and was sent to prison for three years and a half.
SHE HAD LEFT HOME SUDDENLY
Mrs. Guilford “skipped her bond ” of $15,000, and the charge was still hanging over her head.
The police, therefore, called upon the lady doctor to ask her for an explanation, but they found that she had left home suddenly.
She was traced to Wellsburg, and then to Montreal; but the police of that city, after receiving instructions to watch her, were wired to by the Bridgeport police to let her go, as she had no connection with the crime.
THE FLIGHT TO ENGLAND
The next that was heard of her was that she had booked by the Vancouver for Liverpool, under an assumed name; and, as the New York police were thus further led to suspect her, they wired over to Scotland Yard to look out for a second-class passenger named Mrs. Wilbur.
A CURIOUS INCIDENT
The voyage did not pass without incident.
One of the Vancouver passengers, who was interviewed, said:-“She was a woman of, I should say, about 50 years, of medium height, with a terribly white complexion and grey hair. She A curious incident of the journey was when we were passing through Staffordshire, the lady taking from her pocket some small papers, and from her bag some American railway folders (reserving entire. a yellow folder of the Canadian Pacific railway) and ladies’ collars, all of which I saw her cut up with a pair of scissors. After trying apparently to open the lavatory window to dispose of the fragments, she returned to the compartment and threw them out of the window.”
The detective sent to watch the suspect at Liverpool had no warrant, and, consequently, could only follow her to London.
They travelled by the same train to Euston.
A CAB FROM THE STATION
On arrival, Mrs. Wilbur hailed a four-wheeler and asked to be taken to Tanner’s Temperance Hotel, Aldgate.
The driver afterwards told a Morning Leader representative that his fare had a big light-coloured American trunk with brass fittings and oval top, a small black bag, and an umbrella. She was dressed in black, and she wore a black bonnet. As he could not find any such hotel as she mentioned in Aldgate, he tried Aldersgate, but without success.
No doubt she meant Traner’s hotel in Aldersgate, which is much frequented by Americans.
The cabman then drove her to Ludgate-hill. She seemed a bit nervous, and in a hurry.
IN PURSUIT OF THE WRONG CAB!
In the meantime, the Liverpool detective had got into a hansom at Euston and ordered his driver to follow the four-wheeler.
The driver did so to the best of his ability, but either started after the wrong one, or got mixed in the City, for when the four-wheeler stopped it was found to contain another party altogether. Mrs.
TEA AND A FURTHER SEARCH
Mrs. Wilbur went on to an hotel on Ludgate-hill.
The cabman drove her there about three o’clock. When he left she was asking the manageress for accommodation, and her trunk was standing in the hall. “The hotel is full,” Mrs. Wilbur was told. “If I can leave my trunk right here,” she replied, “I’ll just step in next door and get something to eat.”
Accordingly, she went into an A. B. C. shop and ordered tea and cake.
Between half-past three and four she paid her bill, and called a passing four-wheeler.
Again the light coloured trunk was placed on top, and Mrs. Wilbur went in a search for a temperance hotel, and all trace of her was lost.
SHE DENIED ALL KNOWLEDGE
To an Evening News reporter, who spoke to her in Aldgate, Mrs. Wilbur denied all knowledge of’ Dr. Guilford, and declared that she was a widow from Los Angeles, and had come to London to visit her daughter, but she declined further particulars.”
ARRESTED AND BROUGHT UP AT BOW STREET
The Illustrated Police News, on Saturday, 8th October, 1898, reported that the wanted woman had been arrested and was then in police custody:-
“The “wanted woman,” Mrs. Wilbur, alias Mrs. McAllister, whom the police assert to be “Dr.” Nancy Guilford, wanted in America in connection with the Yellow Pond tragedy at Bridgeport, Connecticut, was brought up at Bow Street on Monday in the custody of Detective Inspector Froest.
The prisoner, who preserved a cool and easy demeanour, answers completely the description of the wanted female as given by the American police. She is in all respects a little woman,. short in stature and spare in form, with a little white face and large, piercing eyes. She was plainly but fashionably attired. A little black toque topped her curly grey hair, and on her shoulders hung a handsome fur cape. Her dress was composed of tweed lightened by a succession of bright green and red lines.
The name entered on the charge-sheet was Nancy Alice Guilford.
Mr. Harry Wilson (Messrs. Willis and Wilson) represented the prisoner.
Inspector Froest stated that at 2,30 on Saturday afternoon he went to 25, Harrington Square, Hampstead Road, and in the front room on the second floor saw the prisoner. He told her he was a police officer and asked her name. She replied, “McAllister,” and when asked where she had come from she said, “Chicago.” “How long have you been in the country?”, was the officer’s next query, and she replied, “‘six months.”
Asked what hotel she stayed at before she came to the house, she said, “I came direct here.”
Witness said, “I am in a position to prove that all you told me is false. I believe you to be Dr. Nancy Alice Guilford, and I arrest you on a provisional warrant charging you with having committed manslaughter within the jurisdiction of the American Government.”
The prisoner said, “This is an outrage; it is not true, and I will see my consul.”
TAKEN TO BOW STREET POLICE STATION
Witness then took her to Bow Street.
She there refused to give her name or address.
At the room in Harrington Square, the witness found a large steamer trunk and a handbag, and took them to Scotland Yard, where Detective-Sergeant Harris searched them. Before leaving Harrington Square, the witness requested the prisoner to hand him any documents that she might have in addition, and she handed him a little hand purse, which had a secret pocket. The name was cut out of the purse.
Mr. Wilson deferred questions.
Detective-Sergeant Harris stated that in the prisoner’s box he found a set of silver tea-spoons, on which was engraved “Dr. G. ,” an instrument called a sound, a gold thimble marked, “A. G. from F.,” and a silver one bearing the initials “N.A.G.”
There was also a quantity of drugs and powders, and also two handkerchiefs, from which a name had evidently been cut away.
HER ARRIVAL AT LIVERPOOL
Detective-Superintendent Lamothe, attached to the Liverpool police, stated that shortly after seven o’clock on the morning of September 27 he was on duty at the landing-stage at Liverpool when the steamship Vancouver arrived.
He saw the prisoner leave the vessel with her trunk and join the 9 a.m. train for Euston.
He followed in another carriage, and again saw her when she alighted at Euston at 1.10 p.m.
HE IDENTIFIED HER
At four o’clock on Saturday afternoon, he saw her at Bow Street Police Court, and identified her as the woman he saw leave the Vancouver, on which she had travelled from Quebec in the name of “Wilbur.”
Detective-Inspector Froest informed Mr. Lushington that he had no further evidence ready, and must, therefore, ask for a remand for a week.
Mr. Wilson said he could not object, especially as no papers had arrived.
The prisoner was accordingly remanded in custody for a week. No mention was made of bail.”
EXTRADITION OF A LADY DOCTOR
The Leominster News, on Friday, 28th October, 1898, published the following account of her final court appearance:-
On Monday, at Bow Street Police Court, the woman alleged by the police to be Dr. Nancy Alice Guilford, wanted in America for the manslaughter of Emma Gill, whose dismembered body was found in Yellow Mill Pool, Bridgeport, Connecticut, was again taken before Mr. Lushington.
Mr. Harry Wilson (Messrs. Wilson and Wallis) defended the prisoner.
Detective-inspector Froest, of Scotland Yard, represented the English police authorities. Mr. Hodgson represented the American Embassy; Mr. Hay (son of the Secretary of State) and Judge Lambert Tree were also in court.
The prisoner looked pale and haggard when she entered the dock.
USELESS TO RESIST
Mr. Lushington explained to Mr. Wilson that he had seen the depositions taken in America and, on the strength of them, he felt he must commit the prisoner.
Mr. Wilson:- “I have seen the depositions. sir, and have advised the accused that it would be useless to resist an order for extradition.”
Inspector Froest said that there was an officer from America who could identify the prisoner.
Edward Cronan, a police officer, of Bridgeport, America, then entered the witness box and said that he knew the prisoner as Dr. Nancy Alice Guilford, of 51, Gilbert Street. Bridgeport.
Mr Lushingtonhem (to the prisoner):- “Do you hear what this witness says? He identifies you as Dr. Nancy Alice Guilford”
Prisoner (nervously):- “No, I did not hear.”
COMMITTED FOR EXTRADITION
Mr. Lushington:- “Upon the officer’s evidence, and other evidence before me, I shall commit you for extradition for murder; but you will not be removed for fifteen days, so as to give you an opportunity of appealing by habeas corpus on otherwise.”
The Prisoner shook her head, but said nothing.
Mr. Wilson said he wished to mention that some newspapers stated last week that the prisoner had confessed at this court. As a matter of fact, she had always denied her guilt.
Mr. Lushington:- “I have nothing to do with what the newspapers say”
The Prisoner was then removed.”