The Surrey Mansion Mystery: The Murder of Mary Anne Hogg #RealCrimeFriday

Heathfield, Camberley, 11 June 1906. A postman finds two elderly sisters who have been brutally attacked, in the home they have lived alone in for many years. Mary Anne Hogg, the older of the two, is dead. The younger sister, Caroline, is severely injured and it is thought that she will not survive. Both women have suffered blows to the head from a hammer and had their throats cut open with a knife.

The police are called for, and begin a search of the house. Later the local medical officer of health arrives, he considers that the death occurred an hour before his arrival, around 4:10pm.

A broken claw hammer is found in the hand of the dead sister, Mary. The police theorise that the two sisters had an argument, which then turned violent. That Caroline killed Mary Anne, then cut her own throat, and inflicted similar injuries on herself, so that she looked like a second victim.

Camberley High Street, pictured in the 19th Century
Camberley High Street, pictured in the 19th Century

This possibility is refuted however, when medical evidence proves that only a third party could have been inflicted the hammer blows.

Although they search the house, garden and surrounding area, the police are unable to find the knife used to slash the sisters’ throats. But they do find a bowl, which has been used to wash bloodstained hands.

The hammer is identified as having been stolen from a builder on July 7, a few days before the murder. However it is not discovered how it came to be in the hands of the murderer.

Whilst interviewing scores of residents, the police talk to a neighbour who says that they saw a man running across the lower croquet lawn, and that it looked as though the fence must have been climbed. The neighbour also added that when the man spotted them he turned up the collar of his coat.

Surrey Constabulary, pictured in 1909
Surrey Constabulary, pictured in 1909

After investigating the movements of all the locally known criminals who have relevant previous convictions, it is deduced that the killer must have been travelling through the area.

The surviving sister, Caroline, is says that she was lying on her bed when she heard her sister scream. When she went downstairs she encountered a strange man, who immediately struck her unconscious with a poleaxe. She says that when she awoke she found that she was bleeding heavily, and immediately ran from the house.

At the inquest, she adds that the man looked like a bricklayer, and that he had asked her for money. Caroline did give more information to the court, however when the medical professor and pathologist from the Home Office is questioned, he says that he feels much of the evidence that Caroline has given is unreliable.

In the end the jury returns a verdict of wilful murder, but there is not considered to be sufficient evidence to say who the murderer was. No one was ever charged for the murder.

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