The Otley murder Elizabeth Todd

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Postby Pam » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:55 pm

Can anyone help me please? I am sure I once saw a book called 'the Otley Murder' but don't know who wrote it. Elizabeth Todd was my Great Grandma and I would be very grateful if anyone can help. All my Internet searches haven't been successful.
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Postby jim » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:22 pm

Could the book you seek be "Valleys of Death", 2001, by Paul Langan? This apparently deals with eight murders and two manslaughters in the Aire and Wharfe valleys, one of them being that of Elizabeth Todd.

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Postby Pam » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:27 pm

Thank you for your reply but I don't think that is the one. I am buying that one but I'm sure I saw a whole book entitled The Otley Murder. Feel so annoyed with myself for not buying it as soon as I saw it!
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Postby Si » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:29 am

Hi Pam.
I've posted on some threads on SecretLeeds before about this incident. (See page 3 of Infamous Sons and Daughters of Leeds thread.)
The book Jim mentions is the one I learnt about the murder from. However, there is some information and pictures in "Otley and District" by Paul Wood, part of the Britain in Old Photographs series. I'll post what there is.        
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Postby Si » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:31 am

This is the picture of James Jefferson, the murderer.

The caption reads:
"James Jefferson, a miner from North Shields, who was charged with the murder of Mrs Elizabeth Todd on Tuesday 5 May 1908. The wife of John Todd the shoemaker of Pool Bank, Mrs Todd had left her home at 4 p.m. that afternoon to walk down Leeds Road to visit her mother in Otley. At 4.10 p.m. Arthur Coates Helliwell, an Otley grocer, witnessed the crime while driving his trap towards the town. Sgt. Herbert Cook later confirmed that he found the prisoner and a woman's body in a field by the road. Despite a plea of insanity, at his trial on 20 July... (Jefferson) ...was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted after appeal and Todd spent the rest of his days in an asylum."

The field in question is on the left as you leave Otley by Leeds Road, just before the tree-lined beck which passes beneath the road by the left kink (see below.)    
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Postby Si » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:48 am

Caption:

"Sightseers congregate at the scene of the gruesome crime alongside Holbeck Wood corner on Leeds Road. Elizabeth Todd's murder created a larger crowd outside the Otley courthouse (still in existence - the first picture was taken there) on the morning of Wednesday 6 May 1908. Great public sympathy was shown to the family."

I've seen old photographs which show crosses carved into the stones of this wall, and have searched for them a couple of years ago, but there is no trace. Perhaps the wall has been rebuilt, or the road level raised.
    
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Postby Si » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:52 am

Caption:

"The funeral cortege of Elizabeth Todd moving down Pool Road towards the cemetery on the afternoon of Friday 8 May 1908. Each of Mrs Todd's three children carried flowers to the graveside, and the Otley police formed a protective ring around the family's private grief."

Greater detail can be found in the "Valleys of Death" book (I no longer have it) but there may be more information in Otley Museum.    
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Postby uncle mick » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:26 pm

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Postby Pam » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:50 pm

Thanks for this information Si. I know the crosses on the wall have gone as I've been to look. The first time I saw the photo of James Jefferson was at Otley museum. I've so been to look for Elizabeth's grave but with no success. I saw it when I was a child (with my Grandad) but as an old man he gave his permission for her grave to be moved. I will go and check the other thread out!
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Postby Steve Jones » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:49 pm

You can also read about it here in a pdf of a 1908 newspaper on it:

http://dl.lib.brown.edu/mjp/render.php?id=1165265365828125&view=mjp_object

also archive.org has this:

http://www.archive.org/stream/recollectionsoff00winsiala/recollectionsoff00winsiala_djvu.txt


which contains a mention of the case by a psychiatrist who was involved in it.

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