December 10, 1913
George Ball (alias Sumner) bludgeons his employer, sews her body into a sack, and throws the corpse into the canal
After being berated for arriving to work late, Ball (22) struck his employer, 40-year-old Christina Bradfield with a blunt instrument, killing her. He then sewed her body in a bag and threatened fellow employee and witness to the murder, 18-year-old Samuel Elltoft, to assist in discarding the sack in the nearby canal.
The sack containing Bradfield’s body, her legs protruding from one end, was found the day after the murder. A witness, who had seen two men dump the sack the day before, led police to Elltoft. Elltoft insisted he had not murdered his employer, but rather “a chap with a brown mustache” had killed Bradfield with a marlin spike (a metal cone used to make marine nets) and threatened him with a revolver. This statement helped identify the murderer as Ball and a manhunt ensued; he was apprehended on December 20.
The crime and subsequent trial became a sensation among the locals, with 3000-4000 people crowding to hear Bell’s sentence. Upon hearing Bell was to be publicly hanged, the crowd erupted in applause. Ball was executed on February 26, 1914. Elltoft was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact and was spared a murder conviction, receiving a four year sentence instead.
Bradfield’s body being recovered from the canal
- Letford, Dr. Lynda. “The Sack Murder: Christina Catherine Bradfield 1874-1913.” Liverpool City Police. Accessed: December 10, 2018. http://liverpoolcitypolice.co.uk/download/i/mark_dl/u/4009012345/4575883704/Sack_Murder1913.pdf
- “Liverpool Sack Murder.” The Times [London, England]. February 27, 1914
- “The Discovery of the Murder.” The Guardian [London, England]. January 8, 1914
- “The Court Proceedings. Prisoner’s Statement.” The Guardian [London, England]. December 23, 1913