Victorian London - Crime - Violence, murders and assaults - Atrocious Double Murder (Mr. Huelin & housekeeper)

The Times, Saturday, May 14, 1870


The murder report in The Times of yesterday as having been committed at Chelsea is a crime of no common character in the mode of its conception and execution. It was planned and perpetrated with consummate cunning and shocking barbarity, and the victims were a clergyman of more than fourscore years, and his housekeeper, a woman in the prime of life. The report already given connected a man named Walter Millar, a Scotchman by birth, by trade a plasterer, with this fearful crime, and now that the double murder has been traced out, showing that two lives have been sacrificed, the whole circumstances may be narrated.
     Up to Monday last an aged gentleman named Huelin, said to be a clergyman, lived at 15, Paulton's-square, King's-road, Chelsea, and with him lived Anne Boss, a woman a little over 40, who had for many years acted as his housekeeper. the murdered man had friends in Lincolnshire, and of late had told many persons that he should go down to a farm he possessed there for the benefit of his health. He was the owner of a house, which has of late been unlet, in Wellington-square, Chelsea, a place some little distance from Paulton's-square, and, it appears, employed Millar, as a plasterer, without the intervention of a tradesman, to do the work requisite in maintaining the house in a habitable condition. The old man was not seen after Monday, and it was thought he had gone to Lincolnshire. On Many night the house in Paulton's-square was discovered to be insecurely fastened, and the police entered. They found nothing disturbed in the house; a large box was in the kitchen, locked, and a neighbour having said that it was "All right," the matter was duly reported at the station. The house being found secure the next day, it was taken for granted that there was nothing wrong. The housekeeper was seen no more, but this appears to have occasioned no inquiry, and caused no surprise. The murder, in fact, was discovered by an accident, and through the prompt action of one man - the Henry Piper whose evidence was given yesterday.
     The statement of this man was clear and concise. He was called by Millar on Wednesday night to remove some goods from Mr. Huelin's residence, and on coming into the house, into which he was led by Millar, he found a young woman, or one who appeared to be such. He was taken into the kitchen to remove a box, and on cording it he found beneath it a pool of blood. The woman escaped, but Piper was not to be thrown off his guard by Millar, whom he follow upstairs, and, with the aid of the police, captured. Millar took poison, and had to be removed to St. George's Hospital, where he was eventually recovered. He was thought to be making himself worse than he really was, when out of danger, and, being a tall, muscular man, of determined character, the police do not allow any appearance of weakness, real of assumed, to throw them off their guard. The whole time he was in the hospital he was thoroughly well watched.
     The box beneath which the blood was found was opened by the police, and when the top was released from the lock it was raised by the pressed-in head of a woman who had been strangled, the rope being still about her neck; and the blood which had oozed out of the box had come from her nostrils and mouth. She had been doubled into the box and pressed down. The body was found to be that of the housekeeper, Ann Boss. The murderer, having inflicted no wounds, did not look for the tale-telling blood.
     This horrible discovery led to the very natural suspicion that the old man had likewise come by his death, and a search was at once commenced. An inspector was sent off to Lincolnshire to see if the looked-for visit had been so hurriedly undertaken; but, at the same time, a search was commenced about the two properties - that in Paulton's-square and that of 24, Wellington-square. A token which confirmed the fear of foul play was soon found beneath the kitchen floor of the Wellington-square house in a hat, battered, smeared with blood and mud, and bearing a mark as if the owner's head had been cut through from behind with a blow from the edge of a heavy shovel. The walking-stick, too, of the deceased was in the same place. Men were at once employed in turning over the ground in all directions, but without avail. All sorts of likely and unlikely spots were turned over with the spade and pick, but no trace could be found of the body. Then intelligence came that Mr. Huelin had not gone to Lincolnshire and the Inspector returned, bringing with him friends of the old man, whose death was now taken for granted. The labours of the men were, however, in vain until yesterday afternoon when the terrible truth was discovered. A labouring man, who had heard of the crime, came to the police and informed them that on Monday last he was engaged by Millar to dig a hole in the premises in Wellington-square, Millar saying that he wanted to lay some drain pipes down. The man was taken to point out the spot, and as soon as this knowledge was gained the work was soon completed. The body was found pressed down a hole near the drain, lying on the back, and the coat torn off from all parts but the wrist. It seemed as if the murdered man had been struck from behind with a heavy shovel, then strangled, if any life remained after the blow, and then dragged by the coat to the hole and thrust in, the garment thus being beneath his head. The man who was employed to dig this unhallowed grave states that Millar, on giving him instructions, made him burrow, as it were, beneath some paving-stones, saying that he did not want the stones disturbed, and accordingly the grave was actually beneath some paving-stones, which bore every trace on the surface of not having been moved. Thus the police was led to dig everywhere but beneath these stones. The body was removed to the Chelsea Workhouse last evening. The grave was prepared some hour or two before the old man visited the house. It is suggested and believed that the deceased man was induced to come to the house on some pretence, and that the murderer, having a knowledge of the intended visit, had prepared accordingly.
     It is believed that the old man's murder was compassed first, and, the purpose being robbery, the housekeeper's death was then considered necessary, and undertaken for security by the murderer or murderers; for it is believed the prisoner in custody had a confederate if not confederates. Of this there is more than a suspicion. Property belonging to the deceased man was found upon the prisoner.
     Last night, at a very late hour, a woman, who has given the name of Elizabeth Green, was apprehended in St. Ann's-street, Westminster, on a charge of being concerned with Millar in the murder. She admits being in the house at the time Millar was taken into custody. She was immediately taken to Old Chelsea-station. Up to midnight the authorities were in possession of no further particulars.

Yesterday Walter Millar, a man about 30 years of age, was charged before Mr. Selfe, at the Westminster Police-court, with the wilful murder of Mrs. Anne Goss, and Mr. E. Huelin.
     The case created great excitement, and the approaches to the court were densely crowded to enable the spectators to get a glimpse of the prisoner, who was kept ironed in consequence of his having made a desparate attempt on his own life.
     The prisoner had been brought by Sergeant Large, of the T division, from St. George's Hospital, where he had remained since Thursday, under the effects of laudanum taken as a poison.
     Mr. Superintendent Fisher, of the T division, had the conduct of the case, and called as first witness
     Mrs. Harriet Middleton who said - I am the wife of a coachman, and live at 2, Sidney-mews, Fulham-road. I am a charwoman. I saw Mr. Huelin at No.15, Paulton's-square on Saturday last, and he said he would want me to do work, as he wished some one handy in the neighbourhood, and I said I would come. He wrote down my address. On Monday night last, at half-past 12, there was a loud knock at my door, and I opened the window and inquired who was there. A voice answered "Come down," and I did so, and saw a man (the prisoner) who gave me the key of the house, and told me to mind it, as the old gentleman (the deceased) was going out of town, and I should have to look after the house. I understood him to say that he was Mr. Huelin's nephew. He said he was going at 4 o'clock in the next morning, and would see me paid what was due to me. I told him myself or daughter would be there in the morning. He then went away. At 8 o'clock in the morning a man came (the prisoner), and asked for the key. I told him a French gentleman had given it to me the night before, and told him I should be ready as soon as he was there. I went in about a quarter to 9, and did some work, and about an hour afterwards the prisoner came to the house, and I let him in. He said the old man had gone to the country. My daughter went upstairs to work, and as I found that the servant (the deceased) had left a pail and other things about, and the room half done, I ordered my daughter to finish it. I went home, and left her to do this by herself. I told her to stop until I came back, but she did not, and I went back. The prisoner came and said the place ought not to be left. We all went out, and I went part of the way home with the prisoner, and then returned, as he had been drinking. He went into the back dining-room and ordered me to fetch up a bottle of wine from the kitchen. He then set to writing and while he was writing a lady knocked at the door and asked for Mr. Huelin; I told her he was not there, but the nephew was, and then I went and told the prisoner. He saw the lady and she asked him if he received the rents from the tenants. Prisoner said he could receive the money, and give a receipt. She asked if she should call in half an hour to pay the money, and he requested her to do. He gave her a glass of wine and she went away. I let her out. He went away soon after and was gone about an hour an came back in a cab with a woman; the cabman came in and he gave the cabman half a tumbler of wine, and then he went out again to find an address. I told the cabman to inquire of the neighbours; he went away just before 12 and did not return that night. I sat up until half-past 3. He left 2s. for a cabman, and the cabman came at 9 o'clock and wanted his money. I gave him the 2s.; he wanted more, and I told him if he came again the prisoner would pay him. On Wednesday night, at 10 o'clock, the prisoner came with a woman to the door, and she came into the house to the back dining-room. He told me to fetch a bottle of wine, and I did so, and in half an hour Mr. Piper came. He is a van proprietor in Marlborough-road. Prisoner then said the things were going into the country, as the old gentleman was out of town. All the things were to go away, including the boxes in the kitchen. He took the light, and showed my daughter where they were. Mr. Piper wanted the cord to fasten the boxes, and as I removed a box against the wall, he called out, "What blood is that?" The blood went on his coat. The woman that came with the prisoner asked me the way upstairs, and when I showed her she went directly. Mr. Piper and the prisoner went upstairs, and I waited till they came back with a policeman. They went downstairs and called me down. I saw a dead body in a box; it was that of the housekeeper whom I knew as Anne. She once brought me towels, &c/. to clean the house in Wellington-square.
     Henry Piper, sworn, said - I am a greengrocer , and live at 112, Marlborough-road, Chelsea. I am also a van proprietor. Last Wednesday night, at twenty minutes past 9, the prisoner came into my shop and asked if he could have a machine or cart to remove some luggage that night. I told him he could, and he told me to send it to 13, Paulton's-square. The goods were to be taken to the west end of Fulham. I told him it was raining and late, and I must be well paid. He said, "Make your charge. I'll pay you." He told me to be there in half an hour. I went there, and the door was opened by Mr.s. Middleton, the charwoman. He said some of the luggage was upstairs and some down. He told me to come downstairs and follow him. He went down to the kitchen, and asked the charwoman to show a light; he wanted some cord to bind boxes; he found some on the dresser in the front room. He said he would cord the box, but I said I could do it better, and took the cord. I passed it round the centre of the box, and I noticed that prisoner now wore spectacles, which he had not on when he came to the shop. He was very much confused, and I said "Give me the cord, I'll fasten the boxes." I corded the centre and turned the box on the end resting on one thigh to finish cording, and as I did so my hand felt wet. I looked at it and found there was blood on it. I put the box down directly, and when I knew it was blood I said to the prisoner, "What does this mean?" There was a large pool of blood on the place I had lifted the box from. I said again, "What does blood do here?" He never answered me. I turned round and asked Mrs. Middleton if she could given any explanation of the blood about the floor and under the boxes; she said she could not. The prisoner then took off a light coat he was wearing, threw it on the blood, and shifted it about with his foot till the blood was wiped up. (The coat was produced and handed up to the magistrate, covered with blood and mud.) I then put the box down in a standing position, and said, "I shan't have anything to do with this job; I must know something more about it." There was a young woman on the landing, and when I said this and threw the box down, she ran upstairs and out of the house. The prisoner passed between the box and the wall, picked up the coat off the blood, and followed the woman. I followed them too. In the centre of the stairs he stopped, and while the woman went on said to me, "Go back and cord that box." I said I would not, and then he stamped his foot and said impatiently a second time, "You, carman, go and finish cording that box." I said. "No, I shan't; I don't mean losing you; yet I want to know more about this." With that he left the house, and I walked by his side to the King's-road, when I met a constable whom I told about the blood and the woman going away so hurriedly, and told the constable to take care of the prisoner, and not lose him. We went back to the house, and I sent my man to the station for more policeman, and meanwhile we three walked up and down in front of the houses. All at once, as we turned towards the river, the prisoner sprang off and ran very fast towards the river. He threw his hat off as he went, and also threw away the coat with the blood on it. I kept ten yards behind him, and shouted "Murder!" and "Stop thief!" and as he passed the old church and turned into Lombard-street he slipped off the pavement and fell down into the road. I was on him before he could rise. I collared him, and held him until the police came. I helped the police to bring him back to the house, and came back with Sergeant Large. I showed the sergeant the box, and he got a poker and broke it open. There was the dead body of a woman. We sent for a doctor. I had not seen the prisoner before, but heard that he had vans twice from the shop.
     The prisoner, when asked if he had any questions to put, said emphatically, "No."
     Mr. Henry Thomas Ryder, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, said - I live at 51, Paulton-square. I was called to No.15 on Wednesday night. On going there I found the dead body of a woman 48 or 50 years of age, lying doubled up in a box as described by the last witness. On turning the head up to find how it was lying I found a rope tied round her neck, and knotted so tight that I could not get my finger between it and the flesh; it was of the same sort as that used to cord the box. She had evidently been strangled by the rope; that was the cause of death. The sergeant and I took off the rope. I should think she had been dead 24 hours. The blood had exuded from the mouth after death; there was about a quart, I should think, which had exuded from the lips and trickled on to the bottom of the box, and then to the floor; it was a deal box painted green. The deceased died from strangulation.
     Mr.SELFE said a post mortem examination might be dispensed with, as the cause of death was clear.
     Superintendent Fisher said the daughter of the witness Middleton was present but she could not throw any more light on the matter than her mother had done. He had no further evidence, but wished an adjournment till to-day. The dead body of Mr. Huelin had been discovered buried at 24 Wellington-square, in the opening of a drain, and an inquest would be held to-day, but they could manage to finish the charge of murder so far as the death of the woman was concerned.
     The prisoner was then remanded till to-day.
     During the examination the prisoner exhibition great nervousness, at one time so palpable, especially when the witness spoke as to the strangulation, that Mr. Selfe ordered him to be seated in the dock. He is a muscular man of unprepossessing appearance. He was kept handcuffed and removed to the House of Detention in a cab.
     Mr. Selfe asked Inspector Tarlton what motive had been assigned, if any.
     Mr. Tarlton said none, but the love of money; the prisoner had only 8l. on him when taken, and had frequently spoken avariciously of the money the deceased man and woman possessed.

The Times, Tuesday, May 17, 1870


The circumstances attending the atrocious murders at Chelsea were further elucidated before the coroner's juries, far two separate inquests were held, and at one a verdict was delivered.
    The first inquiry was held by Dr. Diplock, the West Middlesex coroner, at the Chelsea Workhouse, on the body of Mr. Huelin, and of course some of the evidence already given in the police-court was reiterated, but much that was. fresh was elicited. A neighbour, a Mr. John Carter, identified the body of the deceased rev. gentleman, who was French Protestant clergyman, holding property in the neighbourhood of Chelsea and in Lincolnshire.
    William Watts, a detective attached to the B division of police, then gave evidence as to finding the body of Mr. Huelin in the house No. 24, Wellington-square. He stated that several constables had been searching for the body unavailingly until they received information from a labourer named Pare, when, on searching
a particular spot near the basement water-closet, they found the body, which was without a coat, and a rope was about the neck. There was no drain where the body was, and the only implements found in the house were a pickaxe and shovel. Edward Clough, a second detective of the same division, confirmed this evidence, and deposed to discovering in the same house the hat of deceased, crushed and with blood inside. The hat was struck in such a manner as to lead to the belief that a sharp blow had been given to the wearer from behind.
    Fresh evidence was given, by a labourer named Edward James Payne, who gave the information to the police as to the spot in which deceased was buried. He stated that on Monday, the 0th, Miller, whom be had known for some two or three years, came to him and asked him to "do a job." He went at about half-past 12 o'clock to 24, Wellington-square, and Miller, who bad the key, opened the door and admitted him, saying that ha wanted a drain dug. Ito pointed out the spot to be dug as near the basement water-closet, and witness remarked that was a "rum place" for a drain; to which Miller rejoined that he was going to shift another. The work occupied about an hour and a half, at the end of which time the prisoner, who had lain on some straw smoking a pipe and looking on, said, "You had better go now, as the old gentleman may come in." Miller then walked upstairs with witness, and, going into the front parlour, took a notice of the "house to let" out of the window, remarking, "This house is let." Miller went out with witness and told him to come at 8 the next morning to finish the work. Witness went, but there was no one in the house.
    Mr.W.H.. Sausum, a house decorator, of King's-road, Chelsea, and one of the jury, stated that on Monday, the 9th, at a little after 11 o'clock in the morning, he saw deceased in Wellington-square, and. noticed him go into the house. 24, Wellington-square.
    Another witness deposed to speaking with the old gentleman near the scene of the murder at a little before 11 o'clock on the same morning.
    Mr. Thomas Aubrey Turner, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon; and residing at 182 King's-road, Chelsea, who had been called to see the body, said he found a piece of cord tied tightly round the neck, but that would not account for death, for he should say it had been put on afterwards. On making a post mortem examination he found a bruise on the left side of the head, the temple, as if from a heavy blow. At the back of the neck, or rather
the base of the skull, there were two holes scarcely as large as peas, and on pressing the parts the brain protruded. There were no other external marks of violence. The holes mentioned were sufficient to account for death, the cause of
which was fracture of the base of the skull. He did not think such an instrument as the pickaxe would have produced the holes. They were so excessively small that it must have been a very sharp instrument, much sharper than the pick. The holes broke into the cells at the back of the ear.
    A juror suggested that perhaps the old gentleman was struck down by a shovel, as the condition of the hat indicated. and that a nail had been struck into the brain.
    The witness further expressed himself as of opinion that the rope was tied round the neck after death, and that by it the body bad been dragged along.
    James Smith, the man whose evidence has been reported in the police-court evidence, was now re-called. He appeared much excited, and wanted to have persons called and questioned as to facts relating to himself. The evidence he had given before the magistrate respecting the prisoner coveting the money possessed by the two deceased persons and some other matters was then read by the Coroner and attested as the evidence of the witness, who said he bore the prisoner no ill-will, only be did think the prisoner might have got him charged as well.
Police-constable Cole, 194 T, repeated his evidence given at the police-court respecting Piper calling to him on Wednesday night to come to the house 15, Paulton-square, as there was something wrong, and he narrated the circumstances attending the apprehension of the prisoner and detailed the articles found upon the prisoner, Walter Miller.
    Mr. Edward Huelin, a young man, the nephew of the deceased gentleman, stated that be formerly lived at 15, Paulton's-square. with his uncle, and of late had been at a farm in Linconlnshire, where he expected to see his uncle last week. He identified some of the articles found on the prisoner as spectacles and case, penknife, pencil, rent-book, an odd glove ( the fellow of this glove was found on the body of the deceased), to be the property of the deceased, and generally carried about with him. The prisoner lived in a house belonging to the deceased, and witness had been sent in March last for arrears of rent.
Mr. James Ray, an inspector of the Scotland-yard detective police, stated that on Thursday he was at Chelsea police-station, when a woman named Margaret Ann Miller came and identified as her husband Walter Miller, who then stood changed with the murder of Ann Boss. The prisoner was then insensible, or appeared to be so; and the woman gave as her address 24, Semyour-place. At that house witness, who was accompanied by Superintendent Fisher, found in a box papers addressed to Mr. Huelin, such as abstracts of titles, and other papers relating to property (papers of some bulk), and a bunch of keys, and trousers with blood stains on the thigh. He then described the steps which were taken by the police in tracing out the dead body at Wellington-square. The bat and stick of deceased were found under boards which had been screwed down, and at the place where the body was found a drain stone had been let in to give the appearance that there was a drain there. Some surprise was created by the witness saying that to all appearance the old man was killed in the morning, and his body was concealed in a cupboard in the back kitchen until after the hole was dug.
    Some persons alleged that a woman who was at tea with the Millers on Monday could attest that he came in with a shirt all bloody, and that his wife washed it out while he waited.
    The CORONER declined to go into that matter, and adjourned the inquest until Wednesday next.
    The CORONER then proceeded to the house near Paulton's-square, and resumed the inquest on the body of Ann Boss, the housekeeper.
    Mrs. Middleton, the woman who, with her daughter, bad been put in possession of the house by the prisoner under the guise of a foreigner, was then re-called, and she said
that, though she had no doubt now that the prisoner and the "French foreigner" were one and the same, yet so well was the disguise assumed that she was deceived. He brought her the key at about 12 or half-past on Monday the 9th, told her he was Mr. Huelin's nephew, with a request to take care of the house, she having been employed there before, and the next morning, when Miller came in his working dress, she told him a Frenchman had given her the key.
    The witness was cross-examined at great length by another witness, and he questioned her with some harshness as to her not finding out that the prisoner and the " Frenchman" were one ; and when, in the course of his own testimony, he made the mistake of confounding the woman with her daughter be raised a laugh against himself which even. the serious mature of the inquiry could not suppress. The woman's daughter was then called, and she gave her evidence in a clear and straightforward manner, supporting the testimony her mother had given. From this evidence it appeared that Miller treated the house as his own, and actually went after rent which some tenants were ready to pay. He alternately appeared in his disguise, With spectacles and a beard, and in his working dress.
    Evidence was then given with respect to the house being found unsecured on Monday night, and it appeared from this that a neighbour saw the back door open of Paulton's-square house and told the police, with whom he effected an entry. They found in one room a pail and the room half scrubbed, but nothing more, and it was thought that the old gentleman had gone into the country, and some accident had overtaken the housekeeper.
    Harriet Sibley, a widow, living in Brompton, stated that she was at tea with the Millers on Sunday, the 9th, at 26, Seymour-place, Fulham-road. Miller was at home when she went, at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and she left him there when she went away, at about 9 o'clock at night. The witness recounted the conversation between the old Mrs. Middleton who was also there and the Millers, in where there was no point. On Monday witness went again at about 4 o'clock (afterwards she said half an hour later), and Miller was having tea and dinner together. He had on a pair of light trousers: he put on a clean shirt and  a paper collar while she was there; in fact, he changed his things. When witness went in Mrs. Miller was ironing a shirt for Miller, and he seemed in good spirits. Mrs. Miller did not wash the shirt out.
    The witness Piper was recalled - he stated that Miller, when he called for a van on Wednesday night, was attired and spoke with a foreign accent saving "Vill you" and such like; but when witness detected the blood, and refused to leave his hold of his prisoner, Miller stamped, and then spoke in broad Scotch-English.
    The CORONER briefly summed up and
    The jury returned a verdict that the deceased, Ann Boss, was feloniously slain by Walter Miller, who had thereby committed murder, and they appended to their verdict an expression of opinion that the witness Piper deserved a reward at the hands of the county magistrates.
    The proceedings then closed.

Times, May, 1870