David Attenborough's back garden solves 130+ year old murder mystery


Imagine, you’re David Attenborough. There’s probably nothing you haven’t seen in your 85 years on Planet Earth and over 50 years of producing, presenting and narrating natural history films for the BBC. There’s probably a point where nothing that you come across in your travels surprises you either.

Well, I’m guessing, after this find, you would be wrong….especially, since this was found in Sir David’s own back garden. Seems as though, unbeknownst to him, Mr. Attenborough’s back garden solved a mystery surrounding a 130+ year old UK murder investigation.

It all started back in 1879 where, allegedly, Julia Thomas was murdered by her maid in a drunken rage and then, here’s where it gets crazy, fed parts of the dead woman to children in the local township. According to reports, Thomas’ maid, Kate Webster, dismembered the body using a meat saw, a razor and a kitchen knife.

To cover her tracks, Webster boiled the corpse and even fed the dripping to local children to eat, calling it pigs’ lard,” The Independent reported, citing evidence given at the inquest. Not sure what ‘dripping’ is, but it doesn’t sound appetizing.

As a result, Webster, who was convicted and subsequently hung in 1879, put most of the remains into a box, but the head and a foot did not fit, so she buried them in two different gardens, of which Attenborough’s happened to be one of them.

Fast forward to late last year where the story unfolds innocently enough with excavators digging in Attenborough’s back garden only to discover a skull which, by using present day forensic technology and radio carbon testing, connected the skull with the murder case. Case closed after 132 years.

Even the creators of Bones can’t make this stuff up.

  • Michael

    SOLVED? They solved this murder in 1879 and hung the murderer. All this story is about is finding more remains in a garden that just happens to belong to David Attenborough. -10 for misleading headlines.

    • @Michael: Actually, nothing misleading in the headline at all. The ‘mystery’ that surrounded the murder was that the head was never found, not the murder itself, which, as you point out and is mentioned in the story, was solved and the person charged with the crime was hung in 1879. Also, never mentions that David Attenborough had anything to do with solving anything, but that it happened to be his back garden where the remains were found that, ultimately, were linked to the murder that, yes, was solved back in 1879. All I was pointing out was that the mystery of the missing head was found in David Attenborough’s back garden, which is pretty much exactly what the headline says and what the accompanying story is about. That said, I appreciate the comment. Hope to see you back at tellyspotting again.

  • Wow, that’s pretty crazy.