DREADFUL MURDER IN NORTHUMBERLAND
Newcastle-on-Tyne, Oct. 22
A dreadful murder was committed on the night of Saturday last, or early on Sunday morning, at Waterloo, a small village near Matfen, in the County of Northumberland, about 16 miles northwest of this town. The deceased was a woman of about 70 years of age, residing alone in a cottage by the side of the turnpike road leading from Newcastle to Stamfordham. The cottage and a patch of ground adjoining belonged to the deceased, and she was reported to possess a considerable sum of money, which it was supposed she hoarded in the house, and that, no doubt, formed the inducement to the murder. It appears that the carrier passed the cottage about 12 o'clock on Saturday night, when he spoke to the deceased who was standing at the door. The murder was petrated in the interval. The deceased was found lying upon the floor with her hands strapped together with a leathern belt, and her feet tied with a rope. Her head had been beaten with some heavy instrument, and blood had flowed from it on to the floor. She was quite dead and cold. The house had been ransacked in every part, as if money had been the object of search; but whether the murderers succeeded in finding any is at present unknown. They had effected an entrance by the window.
The village of Waterloo is situate in a retired part of the county, and consists of only about half a dozen detached cottages, which are the resort of tramps, broom-makers, and vagrants of different kinds during the summer and autumn months. No clue has been obtained to the perpetrators of the act, but the county police are engaged in making inquires.
The greatest excitement prevails in the neighbourhood where the horrible tragedy was committed. The name of the deceased is DOROTHY BEWICK, or, as she was called by her neighbours, "Dolly of Waterloo," after the name of the village where she resided. In the cottage nearest to that occupied by the deceased - to whom also it belonged - lived a man named JAMES CONROY, his wife, and a family of children. They were in the habit of going about the country with a horse and cart selling brooms of their own manufacture. CONROY left his home on Wednesday last, saying he was going to the Heather Fell; and on Saturday morning before the murder his wife also went away, saying she was going to join her husband at the Heather Fell, and leaving her children, as was her custom when she went from home, with the inmates of a neighbouring cottage, Barnard and Elizabeth DOBBIN. Conroy's wife had a led horse with her when she went away. There was a halter round its neck, by which she was leading it. Neither of these parties have since been heard of, and suspicion rests upon them as being implicated in the murder, from the fact that CONROY had a dispute with the deceased a short time ago, and was under notice to quit his cottage at Michaelmas term. He had also a dispute with William ROBSON, the brother of the deceased, and was heard to threaten that "I will look after you." The cottage of the deceased, as already stated, was ransacked in every part, and the perpetrators of the deed had taken the precaution to screen the whole of the lower windows with quilts and sacking inside, so that they might not be seen from the outside. They had besides fastened the door of the cottage occupied by DOBBIN and his wife with a rope or portion of a halter outside, so that they could not get out should they have overheard any noise during the night. The murderers - for there was evidently more than one engaged - had thus guarded as much as possible against detection, and when they left they retired by the back door, drawing it close, but unfastened. The discovery of there being anything wrong was made by a daughter of DOBBIN, who was sent as usual to "Dolly's" cottage for milk. She returned and said she found Dolly's door open, and had shouted, but could not get her to hear. DOBBIN himself then went with a like result, and he being afraid to venture into the house went and gave information to a person of the name of Matthew LAING, who met Mr. John HARRISON, of Muckleridge, riding past upon his pony, and told him. HARRISON and LAING then went into Dolly's cottage, and found her body lying in the state already described on the floor of an upper room, only a few yards from the bed, and with only her chimise on. Her cap strings were fastened across her mouth to prevent her calling out, and she was bound hand and foot. The rope with which her feet were tied resembled the shank of a halter. A stick was found placed against the house wall which had evidently been used as a walking stick. The leathern belt and buckle with which her hands were fastened will probably be identified, as well as the other articles found, and which must have belonged to the perpetrators of the horrid deed. Three men have been taken into custody by the county police, who have shown great activity in the matter.
The inquest on view of the body of the deceased was held yesterday afternoon at the Crown and Thistle, Matfen, in the parish of Stamfordham, before Mr. REED, coroner for the county, when John HARRISON, of Muckleridge, farmer, was sworn and examined. He stated how he had met Matthew LAING, and went with him to the cottage of the deceased, and described the state of confusion in which he found the furniture and likewise the deceased. A pane of glass had been broken in the lower room, and the murderers might have effected an entrance in that way. There were two windows in the low room, both of which were darkened, one with a quilt, and the other with a quilt and sack. An oaken sapling was found outside the window about a yard long, which had evidently been used as a walkingstick. The back door of the house was open. Deceased was 66 years of age. She lived upon her own property, and let the adjoining cottages, which also belonged to her. The tenants were generally disorderly tramps, earthenware dealers, broom-makers, and people seeking harvest work. Their beds were mostly of straw.
Barnard DOBBIN, of Waterloo, labourer, was the next witness examined. After detailing facts already related, he stated that he went to bed about ten o'clock on Saturday night, having barred his door, there being no lock upon it. When he got up in the morning he found the door fastened outside with a rope, resembling a halter, which was put round the sneck, and through a staple in the post. Had great difficulty in getting it open so far as to put a knife through to cut the rope. He then described what subsequently took place, with respect to his daughter going for the milk. He had seen CONROY, who occupied an adjoining cottage, on the Wednesday previous, when CONROY told him he was going to the Heather Fell. CONROY's wife went away on Saturday, leaving the children at his home, and neither of them had returned since. He was in his cottage one day lately when he overheard Mr. William ROBSON, the brother of the deceased, and CONROY quarrelling. They were using high words. The deceased was there also, and she appeared to be very angry. On Mr. ROBSON going away he said to CONROY, "I will look after you," CONROY was to leave his cottage at Michaelmas. When Mrs. CONROY went away on Saturday morning she had a horse with her; she was leading it by a halter. Saw the deceased last alive about eight o'clock on Saturday night, when he assisted her to fasten the pigs in the pig-house.
Elizabeth DOBBIN, the wife of the last witness, corroborated his evidence. She also overheard the quarrelling.
At this point the inquest was adjourned till the 5th of November.