England

Child murdered for costume jewelry

December 22, 1867
England
John Mapp (35) kills 9-year-old Catherine Lewis by strangling her and cutting her throat to steal a brass and glass brooch belonging to her step-mother

Before heading to church, Catherine fastened her shawl with her step-mother’s brooch. After the service, Mapp, Catherine, a servant named Jane Richards, and another churchgoer named Mary Hartshorn left together, though Hartshorn separated from the group first and Richards departed shortly thereafter.

The rest of the events went as follows, told by Mapp himself during his confession:

When I parted with Jane Richards at the Short Lane gate, Catherine Lewis and myself walked together for a few yards. I ketched hold of her hand, and she said, ‘Do you live by Edward Mason’s?’ and I said ‘Yes.’ When I had her by the hand she began to cry, and I believe she shouted out, but I am not quite sure. She ran to the gate and got over it—I suppose she was frightened at me. As she got over it I was close after her, and when I got over it the gate fell, but I did not fall. When I got up to her she was lying under the hedge, and I asked her to let me do something to her. She said she wouldn’t let me. She then told me she’d tell her father. She was crying. I said to her, ‘Well, if you tell your father I’ll cut your throat.’ I then pulled out my knife and I cut her throat. She was lying on the ground, and I was kneeling at her left side. I got up and wiped the knife with some grass, and then wiped it on her pinner. I then undid the shawl and put the brooch in my pocket, and then put the shawl in her mouth. I am not, however, quite certain whether I pushed the shawl into her mouth before I cut her throat or afterwards, but I did put it in. I then got up and turned her head round, and pulled her down the field by her right hand. She was not dead when I started with her, but she was quite dead before I got to the bottom of the field. I put her in the building where she was found. I think the mark on her forehead was caused by the heel of my boot touching her as I pulled her down the field. I did not strike her. I was very sorry after I done it.

Mapp was hanged on April 9, 1868 and became the last person publicly executed in Shropshire; a month later, all public executions in England were stopped.

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