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A Rhodes Tragedy

A Rhodes Tragedy

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Published by woody32
Newspaper account of Relatives deaths in 1903.
Newspaper account of Relatives deaths in 1903.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: woody32 on Jun 18, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/18/2009

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A Rhodes tragedy.
Wife and two children murderedThe Husband commits suicide
Not in all the records of Middletons criminal history, If such were compiled, could be found anything equal to oreven anything approaching the unearthly and diabolicalscenes which formed the forefront of a domestic tragedyat Rhodes on Thursday morning. Wherin Louis Smethurstof 9 Hilton Street, in that village, murdered his wife andtwo children, and afterwards commited suicide.Pen cannot describe the varied feelings with which thestory of this terrible tragedy was received, how it waswafted from ear to ear, growing in intensity and in moreharrowing detail the faster it travelled. But not the mostliberal dissemination gave the story one touch of exaggeration which could be deducted from the sum totalof the atrocity. Wether in Middleton or Rhodes, it was thesame story one heard succinctly told, that a man hadmurdered his wife and family, and afterwards destroyedhimself, and then turning naturally to the question of 
 
motive, that it was jealousy in its most sordid and terribleform that was at the bottom of the mischief.Bathed in a flood of sunshine that seemed but mockery,writes a reporter. I saw before me the house wherein awhole family had been exterminated. It is a tiny cottage,well elevated and healthily situated. This would be abouteleven o’clock on Thursday morning, and round aboutwere knots of women and men who discussed the prosand cons of the case in whispers. There was horror at thecrime certainly but people seemed to be too staggered totalk rationally. How terrible a thing this was for the villageof Rhodes; such was prominent in their minds. To thinkthat here in this self-contained village, with its hardworking folk, and its churches and chapels andinstitutions. All the restfulness of their village lives shouldbe broken in upon by a dire calamity such as this! Thoughts like these were freely expressed. Indignationwas an absent quantity – there was more of the gentlespirit of sympathy. Downstairs in the front room a whiteblind hid the view from the curious populous, but theynew that it was not here the police were investigating thehorrors of the tragedy. The bedroom upstairs with windowsash drawn aside was the scene of ghastliness and death.
The first story
 
I will try to gather the facts I gleaned. Here there livedman and wife –Louis Smethurst, aged 30 and eliza AnnSmethurst, aged 27 with their little children John (aged 4)and Hannah (aged 6). It was matter of commonknowledge that they were not on good terms, thathusband and wife enjoyed none of that felicity to belooked for in married life, But friends and neighbourslooked upon it as no more than one of those misallianceswhich alas are far too common. That violence was apossibility might have been anticipated, but that murderwas an eventuality was never even dreamt of.I learned the first part of the story from William walker,who lives in Thorpe Street, and is the professionalcricketer at Rhodes. Walker rendered yeoman service inthe matter. This man was coming up Chapel Street about9.35 a.m. and was attracted to Hilton street by hearingscreams. Drawn to the spot he saw the unusual spectacleof a ladder drawn upto the window of No. 9 and a womanlooking through the front bedroom window. He mountedthe ladder and peering in at the window. Had thehorrifying spectacle presented to him of a whole familymurdered and saturated in blood. He was naturally muchunnerved and instinctively his thoughts turned to thepolice. He was not long in securing the services of P.C.francis, who made an entry. The real nature of the tragedyhad been previously been discovered by Mrs. Henshalland Mrs. Ogden, who thought there was something wrongby reason of the house remaining locked up and therebeing no signs of animation about.

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