Amelia Sach and Annie Walters


Amelia Sach and Annie Walters

Amelia Sach (1873 – 3 February 1903) and Annie Walters (1869 – 3 February 1903) were two British serial killers better known as the Finchley baby farmers.

Contents

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Crimes

Amelia Sach operated a lying-in home in Stanley Road, and later at Claymore House in Hertford Road (both in East Finchley), London. Around 1900,[1] she began to advertise that babies “could be left”, and took money for adoptions. The clients, judging from the witness accounts, were mostly servants from local houses who had become pregnant, and who had employers who were keen for the matter to be resolved discreetly. There was a charge for lying in, and another for adoption, a “present” to future parents of between £25 and £30.

Annie Walters would collect the baby after it was born, and then dispose of it with poison — chlorodyne[2] (a medicine containing morphine[3]). They were caught after Walters raised the suspicions of her landlord in Islington who was a police officer. An unknown number of babies were murdered this way, probably dozens.[citation needed] The evidence provided as to the scale of the crime were the quantity of baby clothes found at Claymore House. A local campaign to have their sentences commuted to life failed, and they became the first women to be hanged at Holloway on 3 February 1903, by Henry Pierrepoint, the future father of Albert Pierrepoint, the only double hanging of women to be carried out in modern times.

Background

Little is known about the pair but it is clear that Sach was active long before she engaged Walters. Sach was herself a mother; the England and Wales census of 1901 shows that a child was born to her in Clapham and that she was married to a builder called Jeffrey Sach. She lied about her age—she was 32, not 29. Walters’s background is unknown, but she had been married. She seems to have had a drinking problem and she would periodically advertise herself as a sick nurse. On her arrest she was determined to be “feeble”, that is to say, feeble-minded.[4]

There is a small possibility that the pair may have been involved in an earlier homicide that resulted in another woman being executed. In 1899 Louise Masset was tried for the murder of her young son Manfred, whose body was found in the ladies’ lavatory at Dalston Junction railway station after being killed. Circumstantial evidence suggested that Louise was the murderer, and the killing was to be rid of a supposed encumbrance due to her wanting to marry a man named Lucas. However, in her claims of innocence, Louise said she had taken Manfred out of the care of one woman to give him to two ladies she met who had an establishment for the care of growing children. The police claimed they made some effort in looking for the two women, but the extent of their investigation is unknown. In any event, Louise Masset was tried and convicted of the murder, and despite a petition for mercy was executed in early January 1900.

Burial

The bodies of Sach and Walters were buried in unmarked graves within the walls of Holloway Prison, as was customary. In 1971 the prison underwent an extensive programme of rebuilding, during which the bodies of all the executed women were exhumed. With the exception of Ruth Ellis, the remains of the four other women executed at Holloway (i.e. Styllou Christofi, Edith Thompson, Sach and Walters) were subsequently reburied in a single grave (plot 117) at Brookwood Cemetery. The precise location of Sach and Walters’ grave within Brookwood Cemetery is 51°18?13.67?N 0°37?33.33?W? / ?51.3037972°N 0.625925°W? / 51.3037972; -0.625925.

References

  • Jesse, F. Tennyson Murder and Its Motives (Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company—Dolphin Books, 1924, 1958, 1965), 240p. The book’s introduction has a section on the “Baby Farming” murder cases, including 3 pages on Sachs and Walters—p. 32-34 in this edition.

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