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A female thief, with four husbands, a lover and, reportedly, over twelve children, is arrested and tried for the murder of her step-son in 1872, turning the small village of West Auckland in County Durham upside down. Other bodies are exhumed and when they are found to contain arsenic, she is suspected of their murder as well. The perpetrator, Mary Ann Cotton, was tried and found guilty and later hanged on 24 March 1873 in Durham Goal. It is claimed she murdered over twenty people and was the first female serial killer in England. With location photographs and a blow by blow account of the trial, this book challenges the claim that Mary Ann Cotton was the ‘The West Auckland Borgia’, a title given to her at the time. It sets out her life, trial, death and the aftermath and also questions the legal system used to convict her by looking at contemporary evidence from the time and offering another explanation for the deaths. The book also covers the lives of those left behind, including the daughter born to Mary Ann Cotton in Durham Goal.
This book was the inspiration for the ITV drama Dark Angel. As one of the UK’s leading commentators, David Wilson shows how some serial killers stay in the headlines whilst others rapidly become invisible - or “unseen”. Yet Mary Ann Cotton is not just the first but perhaps the 1st’s most prolific female serial killer, with more victims than Myra Hindley, Rosemary West, Beverly Allit or male predators such as Jack the Ripper and Dennis Nilsen. But her own north east of England (and criminologists) apart, she remains largely forgotten, despite poisoning to death up to 21 victims in Britain’s ‘arsenic century’. Exploding myths that every serial killer is a ‘monster’, the author draws attention to Cotton’s charms, allure, capability, skill and ambition - drawing parallels or contrasting the methods and lifestyles of other serial killers from Victorian to modern times. He also shows how events cannot be separated from their social context – here the industrial revolution, growing mobility, women’s emancipation and greater assertiveness. And concerning the reticence of ‘human nature’, like Dr Harold Shipman, Cotton was allowed to go on killing despite reasons to suspect her. The book contains other resonances to aid understanding of how serial murderers can go undiscovered despite such things as coincidence, gossip, whispers or motives that become more obvious with the benefit of hindsight. It is also a detective story in which the persistence of a single individual saw Cotton tried and executed, events analysed first-hand from the archives and location visits as the author fills the gaps in a remarkable story. By a leading expert on serial killers; Meticulously researched and highly readable; Fresh interpretations mean this book is destined to be the definitive title on Mary Ann Cotton. ‘An enthralling read David Wilson does not write generic ‘true crime’, but history of the highest order’: Judith Flanders, best-selling author, journalist and historian. David Wilson is Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. An ex-prison governor he has broadcast for the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 (where he presents ‘Killers Behind Bars’). His books include Serial Killers: Hunting Britons and Their Victims 1960-2006 (2007) and Looking for Laura: Public Criminology and Hot News (2011).
The Chilling Inside Story of Women Who Are Driven to Kill Killer Women are the most disturbing yet compelling of all criminals, representing the very darkest side of humanity and subverting the conventional view of women as the weaker sex. From Elizabeth Bathory, 'The Bloody Countess' whose vampire-like tendencies terrorised sixteenth-century Hungary, to the Moors Murderer Myra Hindley and the Florida Highway Killer Aileen Wuornos, these women transfix us with their extreme ability to commit savage acts of cruelty and depravity. Most chilling is the fact that many of their victims represent the most vulnerable in society: babies, the ill and infirm, and the elderly. In some cases their methods of disposing of the corpses fall nothing short of ingenious: meet Leonarda Cianciulli, 'The Soap-Maker of Correggio', who used the fat from her victims' bodies to make soap and teacakes to sell to unsuspecting customers. These killers' backgrounds, methods and their crimes are described in forensic and gripping detail. 50 terrifying cases of killer women are brought to life, including: Elizabeth Bathory 'The Bloody Countess' Amelia Dyer, The Reading Baby Farmer Jane Toppan, 'Jolly Jane' Juana Barraza, The Old Lady Killer Leonarda Cianciulli, 'The Soap-Maker of Correggio' Bonnie Parker, 'Bonnie & Clyde' Rosemary West Myra Hindley Aileen Wuornos
England entered the nineteenth century having lost the American states and was at war with France. The slave trade had been halted and the country was in torment, with industrialisation throwing men and women out of work as poverty haunted their lives. As the merchants of England and America saw their businesses stagnate and profits plummet, everyone blamed the government and its policies. Those in charge were alarmed and businessmen, who were believed to be exploiting the poor, were murdered. Assassination indeed stalked the streets. The man at the centre of the storm was Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. From the higher reaches of society to the beggar looking for bread, many wanted him dead, due to policies brought about by his inflexible religious convictions and his belief that he was appointed by God. In May 1812 he entered the Lobby of the Houses of Parliament when a man stepped forward and fired a pistol at him. The lead ball entered into his heart. Within minutes he was dead. Using freshly-discovered archive material, this book explores the assassin's thoughts and actions through his own writings. Using his background in psychology, the author explores the question of the killer's sanity and the fairness of his subsequent trial. Within its pages the reader will find an account of the murder of Spencer Perceval and a well-developed portrait of his assassin.
'Here [In the State if Israel] their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance, and gave the world the Eternal Book of Books.' David Ben-Gurion, 14 May 1948 Seventy years ago in 1948 the State of Israel came into being amidst great controversy. For many, the Jews did not belong in Palestine and around them many nations sought to eradicate the new state from the map. How did the State arise? What led to the founding of Israel? This book sets out to give a chronological journey of the Jewish people from the time Abraham came out of the land of Ur 3,000 years ago, until 6 million of them died in the horror of the Holocaust under Hitler and his Nazi regime. It recounts the many expulsions from the land in which they lived, the suffering under Babylonians, Greek, Persians, the destruction of their Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, and finally, genocide and the expulsion by the Romans in 132 AD creating a diaspora across the world. The Jews would be charged with killing God and throughout the following centuries would be expelled from countries, burned alive after being locked in Synagogues and at the stake, have all their property seized and herded into ghettoes. All of this until that fatal Holocaust, which attempted to wipe them from the face of the earth. This book recounts their story to achieve a homeland , using a wide-range of historical documents to tell the story of humiliation, suffering, poverty and death. It tells of religious persecution that would not let them rest, and as their journey enters the twentieth century, gives a behind-the-scenes look at how governments manipulated the Middle East and exacerbated divisions.
A fascinating array of cases that helped shape British criminal history. Britain has long been a leader in crime-fighting technology and forensic science, and this is the story of how technology and techniques have developed over the years.
A superbly targeted resource for those learning about serial killings. Serial Killers and the Phenomenon of Serial Murder examines and analyses some of the best known (as well as lesser) cases from English criminal history, ancient and modern. It looks at the lifestyles, backgrounds and activities of those who become serial killers and identifies clear categories of individuals into which most serial killers fall. Led by Professor David Wilson the authors are all experts and teachers concerning the ever-intriguing subject of serial killing: why, when and how it happens and whether it can be predicted. Taking some of the leading cases from English law and abroad they demonstrate the patterns that emerge in the lives and backgrounds of those who kill a number of times over a period. The book is designed for those studying the topic at advanced level, whether as an academic discipline on one of the many courses now run by universities and colleges or as a private quest for understanding. It contains notes on key terms and explanations of topics such as co-activation, Munchausen syndrome, cooling-off period, psychopathy checklist, social construction, case linkage, family annihilation, activity space, rational choice theory, medicalisation and rendezvous discipline. As the first textbook of its kind it will be an invaluable resource for teachers and students of serious crime.

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