Murder was extremely common in the 19th century metropolis, and the murders of prostitutes especially so. Indeed, the newspapers of the age testify to a huge number of such crimes.
The Newcastle Journal, on Saturday the 6th of March, 1858, reported on one such homicide:-
MURDER IN LONDON
An inquest was held in the metropolis on Saturday last, and by adjournment on Monday, on the body of a Frenchwoman of ill-fame, who had been murdered a few nights before, and her murderer captured under very singular circumstances.
It appeared that a man, supposed to be a German, accompanied a French prostitute, on Tuesday night week, to a house in Arundel Street, Haymarket where he remained with her during the night.
At ten o’clock the next morning he left, taking with him a parcel.
It was then found that the door of the room was locked, and the key gone.
The woman, who was known as Madame Louise, did not make her appearance at dinner time, and suspicions were then entertained that something was wrong.
About seven o’clock on Wednesday evening the room was forcibly entered, and the body of the unfortunate creature was found on the bed.
STRANGLED AND ROBBED
She had been strangled, as appeared from the marks of fingers on her throat.
Her watch and chain, money, and other property had been taken, and the ear-rings had been torn from her ears.
There was a small quantity of blood on the pillow.
Her dresses, a black velvet mantle, and other articles of dress were missing, as also were a number of pawnbrokers tickets.
SHE WAS A FRENCHWOMAN
The deceased was a Frenchwoman, about 22 years of age, and when she came to England about six or eight months ago, she set up the business of a laundress in Little Windmill Street.
Being encumbered with two children, she could not get a maintenance by laundry-work, and then she joined that very numerous herd of foreign prostitutes that parade Regent Street and the adjacent thoroughfares.
A MAN APPREHENDED
On Saturday afternoon, the man charged with the murder was apprehended.
Inquiries having led to information that a ship named the Pride of the Thames, bound for Monte Video, had dropped down the river on Friday and would in all probability set sail from Gravesend on Saturday morning for her destination.
It having been ascertained that there were several foreigners as passengers on board, and one in particular answering the description of the supposed murderer, the Inspector lost no time in proceeding by rail on Saturday morning to Gravesend.
There it was ascertained that the Pride of the Thames had not passed Gravesend, but was then off Greenhithe.
The vessel was soon boarded, and from the description of the accused there was little difficulty in picking out the man.
A SEARCH OF HIS LUGGAGE
The murderer, when he was told what the business of the police was, although he appeared much confused, and trembled, denied that he was the person, or that he knew anything of the transaction.
But, on the Inspector demanding his luggage, he turned deadly pale; and on the inspection taking place, the missing black velvet mantle, moiré antique jacket, and various other articles of dress, as well as a workbox, a number of purses, several reels of silk, and trinkets belonging to the deceased, which have been since identified, discovered.
After the production of this evidence, the accused confessed that he was in company with the deceased in the house mentioned on the night of the murder, but he denied having done anything to injure her.
He was then taken into custody and brought to London.
THE DECEASED IDENTIFIED
From the evidence at the inquest, it appeared that the real name of the deceased was Heloise Torbin.
She was married to a French mechanic, who lived near Paris, but was separated from him.
HE WENT TO THE HOUSE
On Tuesday night week, the man who is now charged with her murder came to No. 8, Arundel Place, and said, “Where is Madame?”, meaning a woman of the same class who kept the house.
He was recognized by one of the girls as a man who had spoken to her the same evening.
He wished to stay with her, but she refused, and sent for the deceased, who, she said, was a very fine young woman.
The prisoner seemed satisfied, and went with the poor girl to her room.
She is said by one witness to have expressed a fear that he would rob her of her watch, or kill her.
HEARD CHATTING AND LAUGHING
However, she left the man in her room alone, and took supper with one of her companions, a Madame Virginie.
She afterwards returned to him, and they were heard talking and laughing for some time.
One of the girls went to the door and asked for a book, which was given her by the man.
Groans were heard in the course of the night, but they were attributed to person who was ill in the same house.
DEATH BY STRANGULATION
In the morning the man went away, taking with him a parcel.
It was not till the Wednesday evening that the door was forced open, when the body was found already described.
A surgeon deposed that death had been caused by strangulation.
THE KILLER’S IDENTITY
The murderer turns out to be an Italian Giovanni Lane, about 22 years age, and is somewhat good looking.