Thames Police: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders
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Assuming that Williams was connected with the murders in some way, and assuming that he did not act alone, who would be the lucky prime suspects to benefit most from the authorities' unseemly haste to close the case as quickly as possible? James and Critchley seemed to think that Cornelius Hart, the carpenter, had a case to answer. His chisel, which had so mysteriously vanished prior to the murder of the Marrs, seems to have equally mysteriously reappeared in the shop on the morning after the murder. The obvious implication is that Hart brought it back to the shop with him, indicating that he was involved in the burglary. Also, if Williams was dammed by his being seen in the Kings Arms late on the night of December 19th then his drinking partner, Ablass, must be every bit as suspect. In addition, Ablass bears a far more striking resemblance to the man seen standing over the body by Turner.

Finally, what about Williams himself? Why should he choose to commit suicide before his second court appearance? The answers he had given at his initial interrogation had explained away most of the questions that he had been asked. Even if he were involved, he would surely have hoped to deflect suspicion away from himself a second time. Witnesses from the prison gave evidence that he did not seem overly distressed on the evening prior to his court appearance. Would he have even been aware of the fresh, albeit circumstantial evidence, which had been gathered against him? Also, given that he was manacled, how easy would it have been for a man secured in such a fashion to hang himself across a beam in his cell? We shall never know the truth, but could it be that Williams was in fact the eighth victim of the Ratcliffe Highways Murders? His death being an attempt to silence him and therefore prevent him from incriminating other gang members?

Williams' body on the cart (the alleged murder weapons are displayed above his head)
Williams' body on the cart (the alleged murder weapons are displayed above his head)

The simple fact is that we will never know the full story concerning John Williams and the Ratcliffe Highway Murders. They will always remain one of the bloodiest and most brutal episodes in London's criminal history.

Continue to the next page (9) to learn more about the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.

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