Showing posts from February, 2014

Chair of Execution

Josef Jakobs was seated in a chair for his execution by firing squad at the Tower of London. The use of a chair for his execution has been variously explained:

(1) Jakobs had broken his ankle during his landing and was unable to stand, therefore he was seated in a chair.

(2) Jakobs was to be hanged, but could not stand due to his broken ankle, therefore seated in a chair and shot.

Neither scenario is accurate.

Jakobs was able to walk to his execution as evidenced by an eye witness account recorded in the book The Prison Governor by Major Benjamin Dixon Grew. As the Governor of Wandsworth Prison, Grew was present when Jakobs left the prison enroute to the Tower of London. Grew noted that " I stood at the entrance to my office as he approached, still limping from his injury".

But, if Jakobs could walk/stand why was he seated in a chair for his execution? Historically, several different positions have traditionally been used during firing squad executions: standing, sitting, …

The Final Resting Place of Josef Jakobs

On 18 August 1941, following the execution and autopsy at the Tower of London, Jakobs' body was driven to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, in northwest London. A funeral service was held at the chapel, possibly presided over by the army chaplain who had ministered to Jakobs during the final weeks of his life. Jakobs was then buried in an unmarked grave (Plot 1734G) in the Common Graves area of the cemetery.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery
St. Mary's Cemetery opened on 10 May 1858. Over 165,000 people have been buried in the cemetery. The cemetery has both Public and Private Graves.

Public Graves, also known as Common Graves, were the cheaper burial option and were used up until the end of the 1970s. Over 115,000 people were interred in Public Graves at the cemetery.

A Public Grave could contain several people, often more than eight, who were not related to each other but who died around the same time. Over 115,000 adults and children were interred …

Does the Ghost of Josef Jakobs haunt the Tower of London?

The Tower of London is apparently one of the most haunted places in the world. The ghosts of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Thomas Becket are said to wander the grounds and buildings of the Tower. The Yeoman Warders, former soldiers, who are presumably not prone to flights of fancy, have had many ghostly experiences. Some of the on-site soldiers (from the Guards Regiment) have also had ghostly encounters.

There are several ghostly occurrences that have been connected with the story of Josef Jakobs. Geoffrey Abbot, a former Yeoman Warder, wrote about several of them.

Mysterious Encounters
On a cold September morning, around 3:00 am, a sentry was patrolling the front of the Waterloo Block. The soldier got the feeling that he was being watched even though his colleagues were at least 50 yards away. The soldier reached the end of the Waterloo Block, turned around and continued his patrol along the front of the building. Suddenly, within the illuminated foyer of the Waterloo Block he saw…

A Prescription for Death

Death Row. The end of the line. One door in, one door out. Appeals are written. Appeals are rejected. There is usually only one exit from Death Row. Inexorably the clock ticks down to the appointed hour. Usually there is no escape.

Josef Jakobs was found guilty of treachery at his court martial on August 5. His penalty was death by shooting. From August 5 to August 15, Jakobs was held in a condemned cell in Wandworth Prison. He knew his execution was coming. The date was set. The venue was chosen. There was no escape.What does that do to a person?

In the United States, where the death penalty is still in use, death row inmates who face their imminent execution are sometimes offered sedatives to calm them. Some states ban the use of sedatives but where they are allowed, physicians often prescribe Valium, Ativan or some other anti-anxiety drug. Some prisoners turn down the offer of a sedative. In the 1800s, prisoners facing the gallows were offered a few shots of whiskey to calm them.


The Truth about Clara Bauerle

Who was Clara Bauerle? What really happened to her? To begin with, we have to recognize that Clara Bauerle's name could be spelled in a variety of ways:      Claire/Cläre/Clära/Clara
If one searches long and hard on the internet, one can find the following information on the singer/actress known as Clara Bauerle.

Early Life & Movie Career
Clara was born 27 August 1905 in Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

In 1932-1933, Clara had a small part in the movie Die Blume von Hawaii (The Flower of Hawaii) which was released on 21 March 1933.

In 1939-1940, she played a young lady at the ball in the movie Bal Paré which was released 22 May 1940.

Singing Career
Clara also had a music career and by piecing together her recordings, the following timeline emerges: 1940 September - Wenn die kleinen Veilchen blü'n (1608 - Tempo 5035) with Bernhard Etté Orchester1940 September - Die Männer sind schon die Liebe wert (1612 - Tempo 5038 & 4176A) with…

Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?

N.B. 2020 10 15 - I should note that the picture of the wych elm featured below is NOT the actual wych elm. And, the "police sketch" was first published in Donald McCormick's book, Murder by Witchcraft. That sketch does NOT occur in the police files.
Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
On 18 April 1943, near the town of Stourbridge, four young boys in search of bird nests in Hagley Wood found a hollow elm tree (a Wych Elm or Scots Elm). One boy climbed up and peered into the hollow trunk and found a human skull staring back at him. Despite a pact of silence, one boy, Tommy Willetts, told his father about their grisly discovery and the police were quickly called.
The Worcestershire County Police recovered a skeleton from the trunk, along with some fragments of clothing and finger bones scattered around the trunk. A pathologist concluded that the remains belonged to a woman  who had been placed in the tree about 18 months previously (October 1941) while still warm. She h…