June 15, 1851
Norwich, Norfolk, England
William Sheward stabs his wife to death with a pair of scissors following an argument before dismembering her and casually scattering pieces of her body around town
The Shewards quarreled about money, and in a fit of rage William stabbed Martha to death with a pair of scissors and slit her throat ear-to-ear with a straight razor. He changed his bloody clothing and left his wife’s body on the floor to attend a job interview.
When he returned, noticing Martha hadn’t been discovered during his absence, he decided to dispose of her body. He dismembered her corpse, reducing it to chunks. He boiled the pieces or cooked them in the stove, placed pieces in a pail, and spent several nights wandering around Norfolk tossing pieces as he went.
This was time-consuming and Martha’s body began to putrefy, so Sheward cut the boiling process out of his routine and dumped the rest of her body. He told neighbors Martha had left him, which was widely accepted. Sheward went on about his life and largely forgot about the murder.
Eighteen years later, Sheward drank in excess and, feeling remorseful, confessed the murder to police. They took his signed confession (pictured), but when Sheward sobered up he tried to deny the crime. His confession included where a larger portion of her remains were left, which assisted in proving the validity of the statement. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed April 20, 1869.