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William JONES





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: May 22, 1910
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1877
Victim profile: His wife Suzanna, 28, and their children James, 8,  Polly, 7, Suzanna, 5, and Alice, 1
Method of murder: Slashing throats
Location: Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England, United Kingdom
Status: Found guilty but insane in June 1910. Sent to a lunatic asylum to be held at "His Majesty's Pleasure"

William Jones a 33rd year old unemployed labourer moved with his wife Susannah aged 28 and their three daughters, Polly age seven, Susannah age five, and baby Alice who was a year old to Ailsbury Street Millfield from Malvern Street Southwick the beginning of May 1910. 

On May 22nd a passer by Mr Hutchinson saw William Jones at the front door with blood pouring from his throat, Jones pointed to inside the house and Mr Hutchinson went in and found, Susannah and her three children brutally murdered.

Mr Hutchinson ran for Dr Gray  and stopped a passing policeman, they took Jones to the Sunderland infirmary to save his life.  When detectives went to the house to investigate the murders, the saw scrawled across the walls "Revenge is Sweet". 

Jones was obsessed with the idea that his wife was unfaithful, although neighbours said she was  loyal to her husband. Despite being poor she kept the house and the children clean, sometimes she was forced to take her children and beg at the nearby colliery for pennies to feed the family.  Jones was often seen drunk and  shouting and raving a lot of nonsense.  Susannah's sister who lived nearby heard the argument that night and heard Jones shout that if  Susannah did not get the children into bed there would be a funeral.  The funeral of Susannah and her children was paid for by the parish. 

Jones appeared before Durham Assizes on the 25th June 1910, he pleaded Guilty but on the advice of his barrister changed  his plea to Not Guilty.  The Jury came back with the verdict of Guilty but Insane.  Jones escaped the hangman but was sent to a lunatic asylum to be held at "His Majesty's Pleasure".


William Jones

It was about 8am on Sunday 22nd May 1910 when Ralph Hutchinson passed along Ailsbury Street in the Millfield area of Sunderland where he lived. A few houses down from where he lived was a man by the front door with blood flowing from a wound to his throat, pointing inside the house. Investigation revealed the battered body of a young woman lying on a bed next to the body of a baby. In another bed were the dead bodies of three other children. All four of the children had had their throats slashed.

Police established that the injured man was 33-year-old William Jones. The woman was his wife, 28-year-old Suzanna, and the children were eight-year-old James, seven-year-old Polly, five-year-old Suzanna and one-year-old Alice.

William Jones recovered from his self-inflicted wounds in hospital and was charged with the murder of his family. Jones had lost his job some two years earlier and his wife had been reduced to begging in the streets to keep the family fed. Jones considered that his wife had not managed to beg enough money for that day and had also accused her of infidelity, though this was patently false.

Jones appeared for trial at Durham Assizes on 25th June 1910 and initially pleaded guilty to five counts of murder. Defence counsel managed to persuade him to withdraw the plea and the trial proceeded. The defence was one of insanity with witnesses speaking of a cry from the accused during the night of the killings of, "It's the comet." Expert opinion for the defence testified that Jones was insane as a direct result of "privation and poverty." The jury accepted this and found Jones guilty but insane. He was ordered to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure.



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