At around twenty to eight on the evening of Saturday the 24th of August, 1864, Thomas Gates, who looked after the Hop Garden, heard about the missing girl, and, on learning that she had last been seen in the vicinity of the hop garden, went there to look for her.
THOMAS GATES FINDS BODY PARTS
The first thing he found that suggested anything was amiss was child’s dress that was covered in blood.
“Walking on a little further,” he later recounted, “I came across the head of a child lying on two hop poles on the ground. The head was dirty and the eyes had been gouged out.”
Other parts of the body were scattered across the hop garden.
It was more than apparent to Gates that the body of the poor victim had been dissected by her murderer, and the sight of the body parts strewn around the hop garden affected him so deeply that he slumped to ground, utterly distraught.
CONSTABLE LIGHT TAKES CHARGE
In this state he was found by Police Constable Thomas Light and engine driver Charles White, who arrived at the scene shortly afterwards, as part of the search party.
Constable Light immediately took control, and instructed White to pick up the body pieces. wrap them in a cloth and an apron, and take them to the Leathern Bottle on Amery Street, a building that still survives today, albeit it is no longer a pub.
MRS. ADAMS NOTIFIED
Here, over the next few hours, the searchers brought the other portions of the body as they were found.
Members of the search party had headed to Tanhouse Lane to tell Mrs Adams of what had been found.
On hearing the news, she became frantic, and rushed off to tell her husband, but had gone hardly any distance before she collapsed in grief and had to be carried home by the neighbours, several of whom then went to the Butts to break the terrible news to George Adams.
GEORGE ADAMS TAKES A SHOT GUN
On hearing it, he raced home, where, on being told that Fredrick Baker was suspected of being the perpetrator of the atrocity, he seized a loaded shotgun and hastened to the hop garden intending to shoot him.
Not finding him there, he returned home, where the neighbours persuaded him to hand them the shotgun, and two of them then sat up with him throughout the night.
BIDDLE AND BAKER AT THE CHEMIST
Meanwhile, Biddle and Frederick Baker had left the Swan, Biddle returning to the office and Baker going to a nearby chemist to buy some scent. Hearing about the gruesome find in the hop garden Biddle went to the chemist, where he confronted Baker with the news.
“They say you have murdered a child,” Biddle exclaimed.
“Never, Maury,” replied Baker, “It is a bad job for me then.”
“Well, let’s go to the office and see if there’s any truth in it,”
THEY RETURNED TO THE OFFICE
Biddle suggested, and the two headed back to Clements.
No sooner had they arrived, than William Doggrell, whose father owned a Baker shop in Market Square, came racing in.
“Where’s Baker?”, he panted, ”they say he has been and murdered a child.”
Baker stepped forward and said that he was innocent.
By this time, a small crowd was gathering outside the office.
SUPERINTENDENT CHEYNEY ARRIVES
At around 9 pm, Superintendent Cheyney arrived at Clements, where he found Baker leaning against a desk smoking a cigar, and still wearing his tall hat.
He asked Baker if he had heard of the murder.
“Yes,” came the reply, “and they say it is me, don’t they?”
“Yes, you are suspected,” said Cheyney.
“I am innocent and am willing to go where you like,” was Baker’s reply.
“What knives have you about you?” demanded Cheyney.
Baker produced two knives, one with two blades and the other three bladed. Cheyney observed that the larger blade of the two bladed knife had a slight smear of blood near the edge.
BAKER ARRESTED FOR THE MURDER OF FANNY ADAMS
The Superintendent then left to see Minnie Warner and Jane Gardner, and, from what they told him, he returned to Clements and arrested Baker on suspicion of having murdered Fanny Adams.
Baker repeated that he was innocent.
Baker was taken to the Police Station, located on Butts Road, and here he was ordered to undress.
EXAMINED AT THE POLICE STATION
When he had done so, Cheyney examined his clothing and found that the left leg of his trousers, his left stocking and left boot were soaking wet, whilst his right trouser leg was damp.
Asked to account for this, Baker replied that it proved nothing, as he was in the habit stepping into the water when he went out for a walk.
It looked to Cheyney as though the trousers had been recently washed, and on closer inspection, he detected what appeared to be spots of blood on them.
On examining Baker’s shirt, it appeared that the left wristband had also recently been washed, and on looking closer, Cheyney found spots of blood on it also.
He asked Baker if he could account for the bloodstains, but his prisoner could offer no explanation.
Baker was then placed in a cell.
THE SEARCH CALLED OFF FOR THE NIGHT
Over in the hop garden, more body parts had been found, and had been taken to the Leathern Bottle.
As darkness had now fallen, and the search wound down for the night, Constable Light had the remains so far discovered placed in a sheet and removed to the police station, where they were locked in a cart shed.
In Tanhouse Lane, neighbours kept George and Harriet company throughout the long night as they struggled to come to terms with the horror that had befallen their family.
THE SEARCH RESUMED
The search was resumed on the Sunday, and more body parts and items of clothing were recovered and conveyed to the police station. Fanny’s brown velvet hat was retrieved from the middle of a hedge.
William Henry Walker, found a slab of stone close to the post where the head had been discovered the previous evening.
It was covered with blood, and there were some long hairs and three pieces of flesh on it.
The search was hampered by the arrival of hundred of sightseers, who, on learning of the murder, had travelled to Alton by train, and, having walked the short distance from the station to the hop garden, were intent on taking away souvenirs from the scene.
THE POST MORTEM
That afternoon, local physician Dr. Louis Leslie, began the grim business of carrying out a post mortem.
Fanny’s body had ben cut into twenty pieces, and parts were still missing, but Dr. Leslie reassembled the remains as best he could.
He concluded that the cause of death had been a blow to the skull from a heavy object, possibly the stone that had been found earlier that day by William Walker.
Dismemberment, he deduced, had been carried out after death, and the poor child would have died instantly and would have “suffered no torture.”
THE BODY INDENTIFIED
Once the doctor had completed his examination, George Adams was brought to the police station, and here he suffered the harrowing experience of having to identify the body of the deceased as that of his daughter, Fanny Adams.