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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-ONE:
Today’s episode is about Annie Sutton, a lone single mother who lived in a shared lodging with a series of strangers; all were friendly and liked her, but one lodger loved her a little too much. But what do you do when you live with your very own stalker?
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The location of the former lodging house at 19 Hart Street in Mayfair is marked with a rum & raison cross and is under the word MAYFAIR. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, access them by clicking here.
Here's a video to go with this week's episode, showing you the view from the elevated platform on Brown Hart Gardens and the lodging hours at 19 Hart Street where Annie & Henry Sutton were murdered by Joseph King. These videos are links to YouTube so they won't eat up your data.
This was created using several sources, including the court record from the Old Bailey Archive, London Metro' and church records, as well as several news sources (not all included below).
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within and beyond the West End.
Today’s episode is about Annie Sutton, a lone single mother who lived in a shared lodging with a series of strangers. All were friendly and liked her, except one who loved her a little too much. But how would she cope living with her own stalker?
Murder Mile is researched using authentic sources. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details. And as a dramatization of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 141: Annie Sutton and the Stalker Within.
Today I’m standing in Brown Hart Gardens in Mayfair, W1; one street east of the electro-convulsive abortion of Elsie Goldsmith, three streets north of radioactive poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, one street south of the Europa Hotel where the flight-crew of El-Al 016 were massacred, and four streets north-east of the last brave fight of Tudor Simionov – coming soon to Murder Mile.
Originally called the Duke Street Gardens, Brown Hart Gardens is one of those architectural anomalies that the average pedestrian walks-by every day, knowing it looks out-of-place, but never asking why.
Surrounded on all sides by mansion blocks (the posh word for flats), Brown Hart Gardens is an oblong-shaped walled garden with very ornate features; like a baroque domed pavilion of Portland stone, paved Italian greenery and a quaint little café, but what’s it’s hiding is a large electricity substation.
And that epitomises Mayfair; rich and poor, arty and ugly, two opposites living side-by-side with one on show for the world and the other hidden in shame. Here you will see; red-trousered numpties next to a shambling mess in filthy rags, a snoot of hoity-toities living it large as life’s forgotten few hunker in flappy boxes, and arseholes who begin every sentence with ‘I’, quaffing fizzy-wine which costs an annual-salary per bottle, next to a homeless man heated only by a damp sleeping bag and a hit of scag.
It has pretty much been erased, but 150 years ago, this part of Mayfair was a place of abject poverty.
Comprising of Brown Street and Hart Street, this used to be a series of working-class dwellings for the city’s poorest, before it’s demolition in 1888. Situated at 19 Hart Street was a four-storey lodging full of thirty people; with many so broke, they were forced to share a room and even a bed with strangers.
Living hand-to-mouth, they could never choose neighbours; so many simply they made the best of it, some found new pals, but others were left living side-by-side with someone who would do them harm.
As it was here, on Thursday 20th January 1887, that Annie Sutton would last interact with her fellow lodger - Joseph King; a stalker who lived for her touch, but loved her to death. (Interstitial)
(Croaky/stroke-ish) "I love Annie. I am very fond of her. But if I don't have her... no one else shall".
Annie Sutton was typical of many working-class women living in London in the late 1800’s. With a cruel unjust society burdening her with little more than a limited education and a few basic skills, she was reliant on others simply to live, and doomed to a sad relentless existence of poverty and failure.
Like many people, she was a nobody, hence very little was deemed worthy enough to document her life. Even in court, at her own trial about her own death; she was listed as Sutton, Button and Burton.
Born in a small village near Exeter in 1847, Annie did everything right according to the rules of the day, as with women banned from keeping savings or owning a home, she married to ensure her survival.
Life was hard, but she made-do with what little she had.
In August 1885, at the St George’s parish workhouse in Mount Street, Annie gave birth to a baby boy called Henry; a small pale sprat named after her husband. Together this little family of three lived an existence with no certainties – they shared a small cramped room with another family, scraped-by on an unsustainable pittance, struggled to pay the weeks rent or risk eviction, and ate a meagre ration only if and when they worked - and although the chance of little Henry living into adulthood was slim, with a hard-working labourer father and a devoted mother, his odds were no better than fifty/fifty.
But as cruel as life was for a working-class woman, fate would be even crueller.
In the bitter winter of 1885, Annie’s husband died.
Left bereft and heartbroken, this 40-year-old recent-widow and newly single-mother was bequeathed nothing but his last wage; a paltry sum, part of which paid for his funeral. But with no savings, no policies, no pension, no goods of any value, no family to fall back on, and no benefits doled-out by a welfare state to provide a small but vital safety-net - once those 27 shillings were spent, she was out.
Annie had two choices; cry or fight. To put a roof over her head, food in her belly and to stop her one-year-old son being sent to the workhouse - like hundreds of other women within a single square mile - she became a washer woman, scrubbing the soiled filthy clothes of strangers for pennies.
Of course, she could always remarry?
But still being in the grip of grief, love had long escaped her heart.
By July 1886, Annie and baby Henry had moved to 19 Hart Street in Mayfair, a series of four-and-five storey lodging houses which surrounded the Duke Street Gardens.
Number 19 was a simple brown-brick block comprised of eight small rooms on four thin floors, with a basement wash-room for bathing and laundry, and being in an era before the luxury of plumbed-in gas, water or electricity, it was heated and lit by fires. But it wasn’t an unpleasant place to live.
On the ground-floor lived the landlady Harriet Pearson, an elderly widow who kept a good house for nice people who looked out for one another. It had a homely atmosphere and lacking any communal areas except for the stairwell, she would welcome lodgers into her kitchen to cook and share a meal.
The top two floors were housed by four families, but (as was standard in any lodging-house) the others were occupied by singletons. In the front first-floor room, Harriet’s adoptive son William Jewell shared with a burly omnibus driver called Charles Stanfield. Behind them, in a small back-room, two domestic servants - Lizzie Coten and Emily Sharp – shared a tatty horsehair mattress, as beside them Annie and her baby slept in a small lumpy bed. And in the back-room behind Harriet’s kitchen, a slightly-deaf elderly servant called Richard Bartholomew shared with a 41-year-old labourer called Joseph King.
It was an odd mix of strangers, but everyone seemed friendly...
...only Joseph wanted Annie to be more than his friend.
(Croaky/stroke-ish) “I will have her as my wife. If not, I will break her neck”.
The history of Joseph King is a bit of a mystery. Born in Thurston, a Suffolk parish near Bury St Edmonds in 1846, he was the eldest of two brothers, but – since his teenage years – he’d had no further contact with his parents. Being pretty-much a loner, he was childless, unmarried and having only ever been in love with two women, his hopes at romance ended in disaster, as in his words “they betrayed me”.
Being a thinly-built man, with a tangled mess of dark brown hair like an abandoned rat’s nest, sunken yellow eyes like two discarded pots of piss and a stick-like body punctuated by a beer-filled pot-belly, although Annie would have lived a slightly better life as a wife than a spinster, he wasn’t her type.
With hands scuffed, his head scarred, moods which swung from ominously distant to uncomfortably close, and – having fallen from a horse aged 17 – his tongue rasped with a croaky lisp, his leg dragged and limped, his face unevenly drooped, and the right-side of his skull was soft to the touch.
But according to those who knew him, he wasn’t a bad man. He was odd, but no real bother. Burdened by a partial paralysis down the right-hand side of his body, he still earned a modest 27 shillings-a-week as a bricklayer for Patman & Co, building a house at nearby 10 South Audley Street. He moved into 19 Hart Street six months earlier and always paid his 3 shillings rent on time. He drank in the evenings but he wasn’t abusive. And he cheekily (if creepily) called his elderly half-deaf bunkmate ‘daddy’.
Times were tough, so with Annie & Joseph both being single, perhaps this was a love-match?
Sadly not. As in Annie’s eyes, Joseph wasn’t right...
...but in his eyes, it was love at first sight.
During his first month, she rarely saw him, as while she slaved away over hot piles of laundry, he lived up top. But when a cheaper bed became available on the ground-floor, suddenly as she would descend the stairs, she began to sense a creaking and a silence, as a sallow set of hollow eyes closely eyed her.
As the weeks passed, all-too-often Annie found the uncomfortably tight stairwell conveniently blocked by Joseph, who greeted her with a raspy “oh, good day... again”, and yet he seemed to be going nowhere for no reason. Each time, she was polite, but she never stopped to talk, as the useful excuse of armfuls of unwashed clothes or a screaming baby at her breast always seemed to hasten her step.
And as weeks turned into months, his escalating attention turned from small talk to little gifts; often he’d give her bread, milk, a brooch, baby shoes, or money to help her get by. Being broke, struggling to save three shillings for the week’s rent and keep the workhouse at bay, she knew she shouldn’t say yes, so often she didn’t, but as a singleton with a hungry child, sometimes “no” was impossible to say.
On Saturday 5th January 1887, two weeks before her death, Joseph knocked on Annie’s door. Opening it a crack, he couldn’t see his beloved hidden by a mountain of sodden clothes and thick steamy clouds which rose from her scorching iron, so Emily Sharp relayed their words. Joseph: “Oh, I’ve come for my washing”, Annie: “It’s not ready, go back down”. But before the door was even shut, Joseph was in.
Inside her room, he grinned at Annie... only being too busy, Annie ignored him.
Abruptly, Emily asked him to leave, as the landlady didn’t approve of men inside a ladies’ room. But Joseph didn’t hear her, as his focus was fixed firmly on Annie – her head-down and shrouded by mist.
At his feet, he saw eighteen-month-old Henry playing on the wooden floor. Scooping the little tot up, Joseph gently stroked his head with a palsied hand, as on his forehead he planted a kiss with wonky lips muttering “love him, love this boy” - his love seemed genuine, like he was destined to be his daddy.
A little weirded-out, Emily snatched the boy back and shoved Joseph out. But before this odd-ball was ousted, he said these words; "I love Annie Sutton, I am very fond of her...” – ten words which Annie ignored – only to utter “...but if I don't have her, no one else shall".
Annie Sutton was trapped in her own home with her own stalker...
...but as ‘being in love’ isn’t a crime, all she could do was keep her distance.
Joseph was not shy about airing his deepest feelings of love among the lodgers - “he’d talk about her most nights”, “he loved her, he said”, "the boy too, he treated it as if he was its father", “he said he’d marry her on Whitsuntide” - but there is a very fine line between love-sick, besotted and obsessed.
“He said once or twice, when he was cross and swearing, that if he could not have her, nobody else should”, “I heard him say, if she would not have him for his wife, then he would snap her neck”.
His words (often spat while sozzled) seemed like a load of hot-air, but Annie was stuck. She couldn’t move-on and she couldn’t move-out, so wisely she kept busy, and she did nothing to encourage him.
Only her silence simply added fuel to his resolve and his jealousy, as fate cruelly intervened.
On Saturday 15th January, six days before, Joseph was sacked from his job. “I discharged him because he was a very inefficient and clumsy workman” said the foreman. Later adding in court “he used to do everything wrong. He was a bit looney, a general butt of the jokes, he was not right in his mind”.
With no job to do and nothing to fill his time, Joseph drank and festered. No matter where Annie went, he was there, watching intently as she went about her life; ascending the stairs and descending the stairs; as she cooked, she washed, she walked and she slept; seeing who she talked to, who she ate with, what she said and what she did; he followed her to the shops, the church and the bathhouse.
On Sunday 16th, between five and six pm, a former-lodger and frequent customer called Mr Rolf came calling at Annie’s door. As always, he knocked, she greeted him “hello Mr Rolf, here you go”; she handed him his bundle of clean clothes, he paid his money and left, “thank you my dear, good day”.
To Annie, it meant nothing, as it did to everyone else who lodged at 19 Hart Street...
Ten minutes after Mr Rolf had left, Joseph was still seething. As she sat in her room, softly soothing her son to sleep, Annie’s ears rumbled to a heavy stamping up the stairs and a hard banging on her door. “Annie! Annie!”. Without thinking, she opened it, fearing a fire or an accident, but what she saw was a tearful Joseph fuming with jealousy, as a long dribble of drool spooled down his droopy lip.
"You would have been on the floor with that man Rolf”, believing that in that brief window between being handed his laundry and saying “goodbye” the couple had sex. “You are my sweetheart”, he cried, “I put on my coat, and put my tobacco and pipes in my pocket ready to be locked up for you”, like this was to be the last stand of a desperate man. Of what? We don’t know. But with slow deliberate words, he expressed his undying love for her, and rasped “I would go up to my knees in blood for you”.
And he would... but who’s blood?
Having witnessed his strange declaration of adoration, the landlady ushered Joseph back down the thin stairwell and calmly he returned to his room. He was agitated and emotional, but perfectly sober.
One hour later, he asked Annie if she could wash his shirts, as if nothing odd had happened. Two hours later, he softly knocked on her door and romantically cooed "Goodnight my darling; I am going out"...
...but wisely she had bolted the door shut.
Annie didn’t have any other option; in the eyes of the law, he hadn’t done anything criminal, he was simply a love-sick fool talking silly. In the eyes of the doctors, he wasn’t mad, so nothing could be done. But inside of his obsessive little mind, Joseph believed that he and Annie were already lovers.
On the evening of Wednesday 19th January 1887, one night before, Joseph lay in his bed; he was calm, sober and slept soundly. Beside him, Richard was restless as somehow, he had misplaced his razor – and although half-deaf – he would later confirm that Joseph hadn’t left their room, at all, that night.
Likewise, in the room above, Emily had bolted the door shut, and with baby Henry exhausted from a cold, the four occupants slept well. So, no-one came into or went from their room until the morning.
Only Joseph would deny this.
Joseph: “the woman was in the habit of coming to my bed, or I to hers, often two or three times a week, for two or three hours at a time. The landlady disliked fraternisation, so it was our little secret”.
An affair so secret, that no-one heard a thing; not a bolt unlock, a creaky step, a baby cry, or the moan of its mother in sexual ecstasy. The night was silent. And although Richard may have been half-deaf, he wasn’t blind, so the last sounds he heard before Joseph snored was him saying “goodnight daddy”.
Joseph would never become Annie’s new husband...
...and Annie would never again find love.
The morning of Thursday 20th January 1887 was bitter, as a cold biting wind pierced the icy streets of Mayfair. At a little after 8:15am - with her baby still fast-asleep in her bed - Annie smoothly unbolted her door, crept down the creaking stairs and (so as not to disturb the snoozing lodgers) she left the silence of the house to pick-up a jug of milk and a loaf of bread from a grocer’s cart on Duke Street.
Oddly, it was there-and-then, after five days of swigging and sloth, that Joseph decided that he needed a job; he shot out of bed, popped on a shirt, his greatcoat and wide-brimmed hat called a wide-awake, and (with drive and vigour) he left the room, stating " I am going out for a little while, daddy". But in truth, he wouldn’t visit any building sites that morning, as he would only walk as far as Duke Street.
At 8:45am, Joseph returned to 19 Hart Street, all dejected and depressed - or so he said. Being rejected for two jobs in as many minutes and – just the night before - having fiercely quarrelled with his beloved barely six weeks before their supposed marriage, he would claim that “enough was enough”. So, with Richard’s own razor gripped in his hand, he said he planned to cut his own throat and end his torment.
But once again, no-one heard any of this, so it’s likely that none of it ever happened. And besides, when he returned to his room, Richard said he seemed okay, as he uttered “no joy daddy, oh well”.
And although he wouldn’t take his own life, a tragic death definitely plagued his mind.
At 8:50am, Annie returned. Her cheeks were flushed red from a foul wind, but the simple pleasure of freshly-baked bread warmed her body, as a cool jug of milk soothed her heat-blistered hands. That day would be like any other; a baby to feed, a few shillings to earn and a mountain of clothes to wash.
Entering the hallway, it was as quiet as when she had left it. No-one stirred and mercifully her baby was silent as she softly ascended the stairs. But what happened next was heard but not seen.
Annie barked three phrases “get off the stairs”, “let me pass” and “keep your hands off me". Abruptly, a milk-jug smashed, as a blood-curdling scream ripped through all four-floors of the lodging house.
Bleary-eyed and half-dressed, the lodgers peered-out into the thin dark stairwell. All they saw was Annie and Joseph; him with a bloody razor gripped in his tight fist, and her with the pale flesh of her neck ripped apart and spewing meat like a burst sausage, as a crimson river flowed down her chest.
Clutching her silenced throat which bubbled as she breathed, stumbling down each step and bouncing off every wall to escape the maniac above, Annie staggered into the safety of the landlady’s kitchen.
Surrounded by friends, here she was safe, as lodgers locked the door, stemmed the flow of blood with a towel and gave her a brandy to steady her nerves... only Joseph hadn’t followed her. He had hurt her just as he had intended, a long slow slit to stem her words. But upon this woman who had betrayed his love, he would inflict a real pain - the kind she had never felt before and would never feel again.
Joseph ran upstairs.
He broke open the back-room door.
And with the bloodied razor balled tight in his fist, as her little child slept sweetly, he began sawing at its neck with the sharp blade; slicing deeper and faster. And unable to cry with its wind pipe severed, as veins split and arteries spewed, he slit the child’s throat all the way down to its tiny spine. So, by the time that the razor was wrestled out of his hand, baby Henry’s little head was almost cut clean off.
Barely minutes later, a police officer had arrived, but he was too late to do anything but gasp at the horror before him; as a distraught Annie bled to death, and her baby boy was already dead. (End)
His trial was held on the 28th February 1887 at the Old Bailey, to debate if Joseph King was insane. A doctor declared he was of ‘low-intellect’ but ‘fit to stand trial’, and yet, his defence drew attention to his actions, an old scar on his forehead, and a softness to his skull, having fallen from a horse aged 17.
Upon his arrest, Joseph was taken to Marlborough Street Police Station, where he confessed “I have killed the woman whom I loved, also her dear child", whilst he calmly sat and smoked his pipe. He also said they had sex that night, quarrelled later, and that she jilted him, but said the child’s murder was her idea, having pled: “If you do end me? Kill the child. Don't leave it to the mercy of the world”.
In his cell, while awaiting his committal hearing, Joseph was given a meal of potatoes, meat and bread, which he apparently ate with “great lividity”, cutting and ripping at his food with blood-stained hands. Often remarking on how the marks remained - “yes, there it is... it is still there” - as he licked his fingers clean, and refused a towel or soap - "I won't have them washed, these were the hands that did it".
On 21st March 1887, Joseph King was executed at Newgate Prison.
Annie Sutton bravely fought back her tears and pain, as this recent widow and newly grieving mother was taken to St George’s hospital. For three days doctors battled to save her life, but having lost too much blood and all hope of ever finding happiness, she died at 1am and was buried with her baby.
And the tragedy is, being so poor, this only occurred as she was forced to live with her stalker.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
As always, a non-compulsory chin-wag over a tea and a cake follows after the break, where you can learn a few extra details about this case, but feel free to switch-off now if you don’t like waffle.
A big thank you to my new Patreon supporters who are Bridget Cooper, Alexis Kilday, Amanda Lamb and Anna Bellingham, I thank you all. Your physical goodies should be with you now, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the exclusive goodies online. Plus, a thank you to Nicola Smyth for sending me a very kind parcel of chocolatey treats in the post, which actually lasted a whole three days. I know! Miracle!
Murder Mile was researched, written and performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of the fabulous Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards", one of The Telegraph's top five true-crime podcasts and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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